Fear of recurrence

The fear of cancer coming back (recurrence) is perhaps one of the most important and difficult issues faced by people who have been treated for cancer.  Uncertainty about the future and fear of a recurrence is a common concern. 

For many people, cancer treatment is successful and the cancer does not come back.

However, for some people, cancer is found some time later in the area that was treated or in other parts of the body. Lifestyle factors can play a role in cancer recurrence, but it is not possible to predict if the cancer will return in an individual person. We don’t know why cancer comes back in some people but not in others.

Some factors that may affect the risk of recurrence include your age, the aggressiveness of your primary tumour or how much the cancer had spread when you were diagnosed.

Research is ongoing to better understand the modifiable factors that influence cancer recurrence.

We don’t know why cancer comes back in some people but not in others. This is why regular follow-up is essential after treatment for cancer.

Some people find it reassuring to have regular follow up tests (link).  Others feel anxious around the time of their appointments. Both reactions are normal. Sharing your feelings, even painful feelings, with others can help.

Talk to your doctors if you feel anxious around the time of follow-up tests, because they may be able to help you.