Fear of cancer recurrence: Mind-body tools offer hope

Relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing and guided imagery help cancer survivors take control of persistent FCR. Photo: Pexels

(Daniel L. Hall/ Harvard Health) — Every year, there are more adults who have been diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lives. All of them face the uncertainty and fear that follow cancer treatments. Research shows that fear of cancer recurrence interferes with emotional and physical well-being. And it also suggests that mind-body tools can help people who have been treated for cancer regain control.

Over the past 50 years, the number of adults who have completed primary treatment for cancer has grown steadily. By 2024, an estimated 19 million will be living in the United States, a tribute to rapidly evolving options for diagnosis and treatment.

There is a critical need to support survivors as they navigate the uncertainty of post-cancer life. Indeed, if you ask patients, health care providers, and researchers, you’ll find that even the often used term “cancer survivor” has different definitions and connotations.

When treatment is over, this doesn’t mean worries are over — not even among people in remission with no evidence of disease. (…)