Thursday 17 May 2018
Susan Long â€“ Maggie's
You may be worried about your cancer coming back (recurrence).
The information on this page will help you to find out more about the fear of cancer recurrence, and suggest ways to help reduce your anxiety, during and after cancer treatment.
Having cancer causes a huge mix of emotions. At first, you may have been focused on having treatment, and getting rid of the cancer. However, it is often as treatment finishes, that new uncertainties begin. Whilst you may be relieved that the cancer treatment has finished, you may be wondering what the future holds.
One of the uncertainties is that doctors rarely say that a cancer is â€˜curedâ€™ - even when people are seen to be cancer free. This is because of the chance that microscopic cancer cells are still present.
For many people the cancer will not return, but the fear that it might, is a common concern. This is a normal reaction - various studies have shown that between a third and two thirds of people with cancer have anxious thoughts about their cancer coming back in the future.
You may find certain things trigger the fearful feelings. It might be a new ache or pain, a follow-up scan or appointment, or you may feel more anxous around the time of the cancer diagnosis anniversary. Your anxiety may intensify with media reports of cancer, or if a friendâ€™s cancer returns (recurrence).
Generally, the first year post cancer seems to when the feelings are more intense, and they gradually subside, as time goes on. However, some people find that the fear of recurrence lasts for longer, and the feelings rarely go away entirely. Itâ€™s more about learning to manage the uncertainty, as part of living beyond cancer.
Here are some tips to help you feel more in control and less vulnerable:-
There may be times when trying to manage the fear of your cancer recurrence yourself starts to feel difficult. Donâ€™t hesitate to contact your doctor or nurse or drop into a Maggieâ€™s centre if youâ€™re finding that youâ€™re:-
Your healthcare team will understand how worried you may be, about the possibility of your cancer coming back - and will be keen to help you adjust to life after cancer treatment.
If youâ€™re worried about possible symptoms or are struggling emotionally, do let your doctor know.
Have a look at our blogs and links on this page to find out more about living with the fear of recurrence.
Talk with others about what you are experiencing. It can help to hear that what youâ€™re feeling is not unusual, and help you feel less alone. Call into your local Maggieâ€™s centre to talk to our professional teams and connect with others in a similar position to yourself.
Last review: Dec 2021 | Next review: Dec 2022
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