Women who survive gynaecologic cancers are often afraid of recurrence, a recent study has found. Distress, hopelessness, anxiety, and post-traumatic growth appear to be important indicators of such fear.
“These results contribute to our understanding of which cancer survivors are most at risk of elevated fear of recurrence and highlight the importance of continued focus on psychosocial well‐being among cancer survivors,” the researchers said.
The study included 154 survivors in whom fear of cancer recurrence was measured using the 6-item Cancer Worry Scale. Psychosocial factors, such as cancer-related distress, anxiety, hopelessness, and depression, were evaluated 6–18 months before the survey.
Participants scored an average of 10.31 points on the Cancer Worry Scale, with 30 percent (n=46) reaching scores ≥12 points, indicative of a high fear of recurrence.
Unadjusted analysis found that distress, anxiety, hopelessness, and post-traumatic growth were all potential indicators of such fear.
Multivariate linear regression analysis confirmed that hopelessness was a significant and independent risk factor for fear of recurrence (coefficient, 0.05, 95 percent confidence interval [CI], 0.01–0.08; p=0.005), as was hopelessness (coefficient, 0.24, 95 percent CI, 0.02–0.47; p=0.04).
Meanwhile, adjustments for confounders attenuated the impact of cancer-related distress and anxiety. Depression showed no association with fear of recurrence in any model.
According to the researchers, future studies are needed to “optimize the screening and referral approach and identify evidence-based interventions most acceptable to this patient population.”