Fear of the cancer returning

Feeling anxious or frightened about the cancer coming back (recurrence) is a common challenge and one of the greatest concerns for cancer survivors. Most cancer survivors are likely to experience this fear to some degree and it may come and go for many years.

This fear may affect your physical well-being, as well as your ability to enjoy life and make plans for the future. Some survivors describe it as a dark cloud or a shadow over their life.

Many people find that their worry is worse at certain times, such as:

  • special occasions (e.g. birthdays or holidays)
  • anniversaries (e.g. the date you were diagnosed, had surgery or finished treatment)
  • before follow-up appointments
  • when other people are diagnosed with cancer
  • when you have symptoms similar to those when you were first diagnosed
  • the death of a friend or family member
  • passing by the hospital where you had treatment, or visiting someone in the same hospital
  • hearing media reports about cancer, new treatments and celebrities with cancer
  • seeing related fundraising campaigns or advertisements (e.g. a graphic cigarette or melanoma warning).

    — Pete

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This information was last reviewed in April 2018
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