Simple tool may help cancer survivors who are concerned disease will return
Fear of cancer reoccurring is one of the most common and debilitating concerns cancer survivors have.
It is not always easy to identify in practice if a cancer is to reoccur as it is not closely related to cancer type, stage or treatment, and there can be reluctance from both survivors and clinicians to discuss it. Furthermore, fear of a cancer reoccurrence is not usually part of standard post-treatment assessments in cancer care.
New research led by UNSW Sydney shows a simple screening tool may help with early identification of fear of cancer reoccurring in survivors. The single-item measure – a simple question asking survivors to rate their level of fear of a cancer recurrence on a 0-10 scale – could inform further development of the patient-reported measures system currently in place across NSW and similar systems used in cancer care globally.
More than 50 million people are living with and beyond cancer worldwide. It’s estimated over half of all cancer survivors experience clinically significant fear of cancer recurring, associated with psychological distress, poorer quality of life and greater healthcare use.