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Keywords:

  • breast cancer;
  • oncology;
  • long-term;
  • fear of recurrence;
  • survivors;
  • population-based

Background

Fear of recurrence (FoR) is a widespread problem among breast cancer survivors. So far, little is known about prevalence, determinants, and consequences of FoR specifically in long-term breast cancer survivors, even though it was found to be one of the most important concerns in this group.

Methods

Analyses are based on data of several population-based cohorts of long-term breast cancer survivors, recruited by six German cancer registries. Overall, 2671 women were included in the analyses. FoR was assessed using the short form of the Fear of Progression Questionnaire. Potential determinants of moderate/high FoR and the association with depression and quality of life (QoL) were explored via multiple logistic and linear regression.

Results

Even though the majority of women reported low levels of FoR (82%), a substantial percentage experienced moderate (11%) and high (6%) FoR. Younger age (odds ratio = 3.00, confidence intervals = 1.91–4.73 for women below age 55 years) and considering oneself as a tumor patient (odds ratio = 3.36, confidence intervals = 2.66–4.25) were found to exhibit the strongest associations with moderate/high FoR. Overall, psychosocial and sociodemographic factors played a far bigger role in FoR than clinical factors. Higher FoR was associated with higher depression and lower QoL.

Conclusion

Fear of recurrence (mostly low levels) is highly prevalent among long-term breast cancer survivors and can negatively affect QoL and well-being. Therefore, it should be given appropriate consideration in research and clinical practice. As specifically younger women tended to be impacted by FoR, it is crucial to be particularly attentive to specific needs of younger survivors. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.