The fear of recurrence and especially that of cancer makes it difficult for the survivor to carry on with a normal life. This fear is not just the top concern in patients and their partners, it is also the most commonly shared psychosocial effect of cancer that can even persist for years.
This psychosocial becomes chronic and even interferes with the person’s ability to engage in good health behaviours that protect them. With breast cancer being the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women in the US, it actually affects their long-term ability to reduce recurrence chance.
Experts believe that cancer treatment extends beyond chemotherapy, radiation and surgery. It is essential to also address the psychosocial needs of patients. Studies suggest that the recurrence fear of cancer might result in sleep disruption, weight gain and sedentary behaviour and even less adherence to medication regimens. This fear also negatively affects the intimacy the patients feel with their partners.
The fear of recurrence is especially difficult to deal with as the patient thinks that ‘the next time I will die,’ even though the probability is small.
While the fear of recurrence is dangerous, experts believe that it also keeps the patients alert and helps them follow the routine. For example, in breast cancer patients, adherence to oral hormonal medication is one of the biggest predictors of longer life and lowers the chances of cancer recurrence. Many patients also struggle with consuming their medication regularly, which experts believe is because the survivors don’t want to be reminded that they had the disease at all.
Breast cancer patients do experience a lot of sleep disturbance and are advised to sleep well. Even without cancer, poor sleep can result in shortened lifespan and a greater risk of cardiometabolic disease.
Proper medication, enough sleep and keeping away from the fear of recurrence are the steps that Breast cancer survivors must keep a note of always. The pandemic is proving to be difficult for everyone, but managing this particular medical condition is also equally important.