Fear of cancer recurrence (FCR) has not been widely explored in survivors of childhood cancer. Yet, childhood survivors are at risk of experiencing late effects and may be especially vulnerable. The aims of the current study were to conduct a retrospective chart review to determine the prevalence and persistence of FCR among survivors of childhood cancer and to examine factors that may be related to FCR.
Survivors of childhood cancer (n = 228, mean attained age = 14.5 years [range = 4.7‐21 years]; mean diagnosis age = 4.4 years [range = 0‐16.5 years]; mean time off treatment = 8.7 years [range = 2.8‐19.3 years]) seen in a Long‐Term Survivor Clinic (LTSC) completed questionnaires at each clinic visit detailing their current health. FCR was measured with a single item. Data from questionnaires from 2011 to 2018 were analyzed retrospectively. Descriptive statistics and a random effects model were used to address study aims.
FCR was reported in 43% (n = 98) of survivors at least once across all clinic visits. Among survivors reporting FCR at least once, 66% were diagnosed with cancer under the age of 5, and 64% were 13 years or older at their most recent follow‐up. Twenty‐one percent of survivors (n = 48/224) reported FCR during at least 50% of their visits. Survivors with a higher number of depressive symptoms were more likely to report FCR (OR = 1.66, P = .03).
FCR is prevalent among survivors of childhood cancer and is related to other health concerns. Research is needed to understand who is at risk and how to.