Fear of cancer recurrence in young women with a history of early-stage breast cancer: A cross-sectional study of prevalence and association with health behaviours

B. Thewes, P. Butow, M. L. Bell, J. Beith, R. Stuart-Harris, M. Grossi, A. Capp, D. Dalley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

86 Scopus citations


Purpose Fear of cancer recurrence (FCR) is common and associated with younger age. This study aimed to explore the prevalence and correlates of FCR amongst younger survivors of early breast cancer. Subjects A total of 218 women aged 18-45 were diagnosed with stage 0-2 breast cancer at least 1 year earlier. Methods The participants completed a web-based survey including a validated measure of FCR and items exploring medical surveillance practices and health care use. Results A total of 70% of participants reported clinical levels of FCR. Higher FCR was associated with higher frequency of unscheduled visits to the GP, higher frequency of breast self-examination and other forms of selfexamination for cancer, not having mammograms or ultrasounds or other forms of cancer screening in the past year, more complementary therapy use and the use of counselling and support groups. Conclusions Young women with breast cancer are particularly vulnerable to FCR. The present study provides preliminary evidence that FCR is associated with higher health costs and lower surveillance rates which may compromise health outcomes. Routine screening for FCR in follow-up care is recommended.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2651-2659
Number of pages9
JournalSupportive Care in Cancer
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2012
Externally publishedYes



  • Cancer
  • Fear of recurrence
  • Health behaviours
  • Health service use
  • Oncology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology

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