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Keywords:

  • breast cancer;
  • worry;
  • fatigue;
  • symptom burden;
  • risk perception;
  • survivorship

Abstract

Objective

Although many survivors continue to worry about cancer years after completing treatment, little is known about factors associated with cancer worry. This study examined associations between breast cancer worry and demographic and clinical variables, as well as fatigue, symptom burden, and risk perception in a sample of breast cancer survivors 3 years post-adjuvant treatment. We hypothesized that after controlling for demographic and treatment factors, a significant proportion of variance in cancer worry would be explained by greater fatigue severity, more symptom burden, and greater perceived risk of recurrence.

Methods

Stage 0-II breast cancer patients (N = 202) completed measures of risk perception, cancer worry (modified Lerman's Cancer Worry Scale), symptom burden (Memorial Symptom Assessment Scale), and fatigue severity (Fatigue Symptom Inventory) 3 years after completing adjuvant treatment. Multiple regression analyses were used to determine the proportion of variance in cancer worry accounted for by fatigue, symptom burden, and risk perception after controlling for demographic and clinical variables.

Results

Age, fatigue, symptom burden, and risk perception each explained a significant proportion of variance in cancer worry (p < 0.05). Fatigue, symptom burden, and risk perception together accounted for 27% of the variance in cancer worry after controlling for demographic and clinical factors (p < 0.01).

Conclusions

The hypothesis was supported that fatigue, symptom burden, and risk perception are associated with cancer worry among breast cancer survivors. It is possible that lingering fatigue and other symptoms may remind breast cancer survivors of their disease. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.