Fear of Recurrence in Long-Term Cancer Survivors-Do Cancer Type, Sex, Time Since Diagnosis, and Social Support Matter?

Fear of recurrence (FoR) is among the most important concerns for cancer survivors. Studies on potentially influencing variables, like time since diagnosis, cancer type, and sex, have yielded heterogeneous results. Also social support has rarely been examined as an influencing factor. This study aims to increase knowledge on these factors.

Analyses are based on cross-sectional data of long-term survivors of breast, colorectal, and prostate cancer (5-16 years postdiagnosis), recruited by 6 German population-based cancer registries. Six thousand fifty-seven women and men were included in the analyses. FoR was assessed using the short form of the Fear of Progression Questionnaire (FoP-Q-SF). The associations of cancer type, age, sex, time since diagnosis, and social support with moderate/high FoR were identified via multiple logistic regression analyses.

The majority of long-term cancer survivors reported experiencing FoR, mostly in low intensity. Female survivors, survivors ≤54 or 55-59 years of age, 5 to 7 years postdiagnosis, with a lower education, with recurrence/metastases, or being socially isolated were at greater risk to experience moderate/high FoR. Cancer type and stage at diagnosis did not reach statistical significance.

Our results indicate a potential vulnerability for women to experience FoR in moderate/high severity. Also younger and socially isolated survivors were at greater risk to suffer from moderate/high levels of FoR and should thus be monitored for high levels of FoR and be offered the support needed to manage their fears. (PsycINFO Database Record

Health psychology : official journal of the Division of Health Psychology, American Psychological Association. 2016 May 12 [Epub ahead of print]

Lena Koch-Gallenkamp, Heike Bertram, Andrea Eberle, Bernd Holleczek, Sieglinde Schmid-Höpfner, Annika Waldmann, Sylke R Zeissig, Hermann Brenner, Volker Arndt