The course of fear of cancer recurrence: Different patterns by age in breast cancer survivors

Danielle E. J. Starreveld*, Sabine E. Markovitz, Gerard van Breukelen, Madelon L. Peters

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

16 Citations (Web of Science)


Objective To examine the time course and predictors of fear of cancer recurrence (FCR) in breast cancer survivors over a period of 18months after initial surgery. MethodsBreast cancer patients (n=267) were followed until 18months after primary breast surgery. Shortly after surgery, participants completed the Life Orientation Test-Revised to measure optimism and the Concerns about Recurrence Scale to measure FCR. Mixed regression analysis was performed with age, optimism, marital status, education, type of surgery, with or without lymphectomy, chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, or radiotherapy, time since surgery, and all interactions with time as predictors of FCR. ResultsThe final model included a significant interaction between age and time since surgery and a main effect for optimism. ConclusionThese results suggest that the course of FCR depends on the age of breast cancer survivors. Younger survivors showed an increase of fear during the first 1.5years after breast surgery, whereas older survivors showed stable levels during the first 6months after which it declined. Also, less optimistic survivors reported higher levels of FCR. Health care providers should pay (extra) attention to FCR in younger and less optimistic patients and offer psychological help when needed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)295-301
Number of pages7
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2018


  • breast cancer
  • fear of cancer recurrence
  • predictors
  • time course

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