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How to Cope with Fear of Recurrence after Breast Cancer Treatment

The fear of your breast cancer recurring after treatment can impact yours and your loved ones’ quality of life.

Breakthroughs in breast cancer screening, early diagnosis, and treatment have helped to increase patient survival rates across the world. But still, survivors continue to worry about their disease recurrence.

An interdisciplinary team of researchers are examining how the fear of breast cancer recurrence can affect the overall well-being and relationships between patients and their loved ones.

The research focuses on three health behaviors influenced by breast cancer recurrence fears and how they can also protect the patient from any future recurrence. The behaviors include quality sleep, physical activity, and taking of therapeutic hormonal medicines. The team is also going to study the sleep quality and physical activity of the patient’s spouse since they are also affected when their loved ones have cancer.

According to one of the researchers, the fear of recurrence is a major concern, and the most shared adverse psychosocial effect of breast cancer and its treatment. Patients have to live with physical symptoms as well as the fear of recurrence, which can persist for a long time.

When symptoms become chronic, they’ll interfere with the patient’s ability to engage in healthy behaviors that may protect them. This will also affect their ability to achieve their treatment goals and minimize their chances of recurrence. Therefore, the research team wants to understand what breast cancer patients and their partners experience from a couple’s perspective.

Preliminary data from other sources suggest that the fear of cancer recurrence is linked to sedentary behavior, weight gain, not adhering to the recommended medication regimens, and not getting enough sleep.

There’s hope that the research will help doctors understand how the fear of recurrence can help develop interventions that will improve patients’ health behaviors and their spouses and boost their overall well-being. 

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