Meeting Abstract

Fears of recurrence among breast and colorectal cancer survivors: A qualitative account of similarities, differences and conflict



Ozakinci G, Watson ED, Sharpe M & Humphris G (2011) Fears of recurrence among breast and colorectal cancer survivors: A qualitative account of similarities, differences and conflict. Society of Behavioural Medicine Annual Meeting 2011, Washington DC, USA. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 41 (Supplement 1), pp. S149-S149.

Fear of recurrence (FoR) is often the most frequently ranked concern for people treated with cancer and has been related to distress, intrusive thinking, and lower vigour as well as lower quality of life of family members. In this study, we aimed to capture an in-depth account of FoR in people treated for breast (Br) or colorectal (Cr) cancer using focus group discussions (FGDs) guided by Leventhal’s Self-regulation model. Participants were randomly selected from a cohort of participants (from a previous study). We conducted 6 separate FGDs (3 Br and 3 Cr) with 18 people classified having either low, moderate, or high FoR (12 women; aged 49+; time since diagnosis 1-12 years) in community settings. Participants were asked to talk about their cancer history: events up to diagnosis, past experiences of cancer in family and friends, treatment experiences, and impact on family and work. Triggers of FoR, how they are managed, and how their view of their future is affected by their cancer experience and the possibility of cancer coming back were discussed. Constant comparative technique was used to analyse the data. Similar themes emerged in both cancer site groups: importance of symptom-related triggers (e.g., general aches) and ways of dealing with FoR (e.g., distraction). Participants described a conflict between looking to the future and having to manage the reminders of cancer. FoRs were expressed irrespective of time elapsed since end of treatment. Differences emerged in events leading up to diagnosis, treatment experience and follow-up time-line between Br and Cr cancer groups. The findings speak to the similarities in the experience of people who have been treated for cancer and can be transferred to other illnesses involving uncertainty about future. This work showed the significance of assessing people’s FoR following completion of treatment and symptom-related triggers for FoR and can be used in development of interventions.

Annals of Behavioral Medicine: Volume 41, Issue Supplement 1

Publication date30/04/2011
Publication date online26/03/2011
Date accepted by journal01/11/2011
ConferenceSociety of Behavioural Medicine Annual Meeting 2011
Conference locationWashington DC, USA

People (1)


Professor Gozde Ozakinci

Professor Gozde Ozakinci

Professor and Deputy Dean of Faculty, Psychology