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Fear of cancer recurrence trajectory during radiation treatment and follow-up into survivorship of patients with breast cancer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background:  Fear of cancer recurrence (FCR) has been shown to be higher in patients treated with external beam radiotherapy (RT) compared to those untreated. However, little is known about the dynamics of patient’s FCR during and after RT. The aim of this study was to examine FCR levels in a longitudinal panel design with breast cancer patients receiving RT.
Methods:  Consecutive newly-diagnosed breast cancer patients (n = 94) attending a single cancer centre were invited to complete a 7-item FCR scale (FCR7) that was collected weekly by paper instrument and at a follow-up phone call 6–8 weeks after completion of RT. Descriptive statistics, and Latent Growth Curve Modelling (LGCM) were utilised to analyse the data.
Results:  Women who were younger, single/separated, had chemotherapy, had extra boost radiation treatment, taking Herceptin and treated by 4-field technique reported higher recurrence fear at baseline. There was strong evidence of substantial variation in the trajectory of FCR (z = − 3.54, p < .0001). The average trajectory of FCR over RT was negative (unstandardized estimate = − 0.59) and associated with FCR follow-up level (standardised estimate = 0.36, z = 3.05, p < .002), independent of baseline recurrence fears.
Conclusion:  Patients vary in their trajectory of recurrence fears over RT which predicts FCR approximately 2 months following treatment. Review appointments by therapy radiographers presents an opportunity to intervene in FCR trajectories.
Trial registration: NCT02599506. Prospectively registered on 11th March 2015


Original languageEnglish
Article number1002
Number of pages9
JournalBMC Cancer
StatePublished - 20 Oct 2018

    Research areas

  • Communication, Fear of recurrence, Longitudinal, Radiation treatment, Trajectory

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