- Cancer Information
- Living well
- Living well after cancer
- Fear of the cancer returning
- Managing the fear of recurrence
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.
Dr Haryana Dhillon, Senior Research Fellow, Centre for Medical Psychology & Evidence-based Decision-making, School of Psychology, University of Sydney, NSW; Polly Baldwin, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council SA; Jessica Barbon, Dietitian, Southern Adelaide Health Network, SA; Dr Anna Burger, Liaison Psychiatrist and Senior Staff Specialist, Psycho-oncology Clinic, Canberra Region Cancer Centre, ACT; Elizabeth Dillon, Social Worker, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Prof Paul Glare, Chair in Pain Medicineand Director, Pain Management Research Institute, University of Sydney, NSW; Nico le Kinnane, Nurse Coordinator, Gynaecology Services, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Amanda Piper, Manager, Australian Cancer Survivorship Centre, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Kyle Smith, Exercise Medicine Research Institute, Edith Cowan University, WA; Aaron Tan, Consumer; Dr Kate Webber, Medical Oncologist and Research Director, National Centre for Cancer Survivorship, NSW. We also thank the health professionals, consumers and editorial teams who have worked on previous editions of this title.
View the Cancer Council NSW editorial policy.
The information on this page is also available for download.
Life after cancer treatment
Programs and support for people who have finished treatment
Cancer Council Online Community
A community forum – a safe place to share stories, get tips and connect with people who understand
ENRICH – a free healthy lifestyle program
A face-to-face exercise and nutrition program for cancer survivors