An individual intervention may help reduce fears of cancer recurrence among patients with cancer, a study published in the journal Supportive Care in Cancer has suggested.1

Fear of cancer recurrence is often associated with impaired functioning and reduced quality of life in patients with cancer.

Although a cognitive-existential manualized group intervention for women demonstrated a moderate effect in reducing fear of cancer recurrence, cancer-specific distress, and maladaptive coping, there seems to be no individual intervention for decreasing fear for both men and women. Therefore, researchers sought to evaluate the feasibility, acceptability, and satisfaction of an individual intervention adapted from the group intervention.


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The intervention consisted of 6-week sessions on cognitive restructuring, structured exercises, and relaxation techniques. Participants completed questionnaires at baseline and throughout the 6-week intervention, as well as exit interviews following the intervention.

Researchers found that the individual intervention appears to help survivors reduce their elevated fear of cancer recurrence and cancer-specific distress. Results of the exit interviews showed that study participants felt the intervention was acceptable and satisfactory.

“This clinical intervention allows researchers to systematically focus on evidence-based treatments for managing FCR, and displays the availability of treatment options in different therapeutic modalities,” the authors conclude. “However, further research is needed to identify the active therapeutic ingredients and mechanisms of change in the intervention.”

The findings ultimately suggest that it is possible to help cancer survivors manage their fear of cancer recurrence.

REFERENCE

1. Tomei C, Lebel S, Maheu C, Mustaers B, et al. Addressing fear of recurrence: improving psychological care in cancer survivors [published online ahead of print February 2, 2016]. Supp Care Cancer. doi:10.1007/s00520-016-3103-8.