Fear of cancer recurring or progressing after diagnosis and subsequent treatments, is a normal consequence of the disease. It is associated with poor quality of life, emotional and physical symptoms, and a change in the patient’s regular behavior.
As a result of this concern and fear, patients might request additional reassurance, have more doctor’s visits and undergo additional testing and investigations. These might result in a greater health care utilization which can have an impact on treatment decisions and financial issues.
Fear of recurrence includes 4 specific components: high levels of preoccupation, worry and persistence, and hypervigilance to body symptoms.
There is knowledge that female gender, younger age, and emotional symptoms at diagnosis, are associated with high levels of fear of recurrence. There are other factors that might contribute to this fear, such as type and length of treatment, illness severity, level of education, health literacy, physical symptoms.
It is very important for health care teams to be aware of this fear and identify it early in the course of their disease. An appropriate referral to psychosocial oncology support programs will be beneficial for those concerned patients.
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