After undergoing treatment for cancer, patients may worry that the disease will recur. An analysis of published studies indicates that fear of cancer recurrence may lead to an increased use of healthcare resources—such as more visits to see physicians and greater use of medications—by cancer survivors.
The analysis, which is published in Psycho-Oncology, also found evidence that some interventions to address fear of cancer recurrence are likely to be cost-effective for reducing fear and improving quality of life.
"The possibility of cancer returning causes a great mental health cost for cancer survivors, but there is also a hidden cost to the healthcare system. Globally, millions of cancer survivors struggle with fear of cancer recurrence, despite the existence of effective interventions that would save both money and distress," said lead author Jake Williams, MPH, of the University of Sydney, in Australia. "Implementing existing effective interventions for fear of cancer recurrence may improve both cancer survivors' mental health and reduce their unnecessary healthcare usage."
More information: Psycho-Oncology (2021). DOI: 10.1002/pon.5673
Journal information: Psycho-Oncology
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