Fear of recurrence common in cancer survivors, patients

14 Aug 2022
Fear of recurrence common in cancer survivors, patients

A large number of cancer survivors and patients fear disease recurrence, reports a recent meta-analysis. Healthcare providers should address this issue with their patients and be ready to recommend interventions when needed.

The study included 46 studies yielding a cumulative sample of 11,226 participants. Of these, 9,311 were included in the main analysis for fear of cancer recurrence (FCR), as measured by the FCR Inventory. Methodology quality assessment was carried out using the Joanna Briggs Institute critical appraisal tool. Studies were retrieved from the databases of Scopus, CINAHL, EMcare, Embase, PubMed, Medline, and PsycINFO.

Analysis of individual patient data showed that 58.8 percent of participants had an FCR Inventory score of ≥13, while 45.1 percent scored ≥16. Moreover, nearly one in five (19.2 percent) had a score of ≥22, indicative of clinically severe FCR needing specialized intervention. Similar results were obtained when focusing on survivors or patients.

Generally, men harboured less fears of disease recurrence. Forty-six percent of male survivors scored ≥13, while 12 percent scored ≥22. In comparison, such scores were present in 64 percent and 28 percent of women survivors. Multilevel regression analysis confirmed that in survivors, sex was a significant correlate of FCR severity (β, 1.18; p<0.01). The same was true for patients (β, 1.38; p=0.01).

“We recommend investigating the role of other factors, such as cancer stage, type of treatment, and psychosocial factors, including prior and current psychiatric disorders,” the researchers said.

“We recommend providing brief psycho‐education about FCR to all cancer survivors and patients, to normalize FCR and help individuals seek support when they need it, even if they are no longer undergoing hospital‐based treatment or surveillance,” they added.

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