Managing the fear of recurrence

  • Focus on what you can control, e.g. being actively involved in your follow-up appointments and making positive changes to your lifestyle.
  • Talk to your specialist about your risk of recurrence and learn more about your type of cancer.
  • Psychological interventions specifically addressing the fear of cancer recurrence have been shown to be effective. Ask your GP for more information or call Cancer Council 13 11 20.
  • Learn to recognise and manage the signs of stress and anxiety, such as a racing heartbeat or sleeplessness. Manage these in a healthy way, e.g. you could try yoga or mindfulness meditation.
  • Speak with a counsellor or psychologist if the fear of recurrence is overwhelming. They may be able to teach you some strategies to help you manage your fears and have a more positive frame of mind.
  • Social support has been found to play a protective role in the fear of recurrence.
  • Joining a support group may help.
  • Consider getting involved in a creative activity. Some people find this helpful in working through their emotions and anxieties.
  • Not all symptoms are a sign of cancer, they may indicate other health problems, e.g. diabetes, arthritis, high blood pressure.
  • Talk to your doctor about how to distinguish normal aches, pain or sickness from cancer symptoms.
  • See your GP if you notice any new symptoms or symptoms that have returned. Don’t wait for your next check-up.

This information was last reviewed in April 2018
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