, Volume 267, Issue 12, pp 1943-1949
Date: 27 Jun 2010

Fear of recurrence following head and neck cancer in the outpatient clinic

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Fear of recurrence (FOR) following head and neck cancer is one of the most frequent concerns of patients and is associated with psychological distress. The aims of this study were, first, to report the clinical characteristics of patients selected for FOR concerns on a patient concerns inventory (PCI) and, second, to compare the degree of FOR using a FOR questionnaire of those patients expressing FOR concerns on the PCI with those who did not. Two cohorts were used. The first comprised consecutive oncology patients attending clinics from August 2007 for 9 months (N = 123). These patients completed the PCI only. The second comprised patients attending the same clinic for over 4 months from October 2008 (N = 68), and this group completed both the PCI and the FOR questionnaire. FOR was the most frequently selected issue on the PCI (42%). There were no obvious differences in selecting FOR by patient characteristics. Those who scored ‘a lot’ or ‘all the time’ for questions 1–6 in the FOR questionnaire and responses (on a 10-point scale) of 7–10 for question 7 were deemed as having ‘significant’ FOR. In those raising the issue of FOR on the PCI, 79% (15/19) had significant problems compared to 24% (12/49) if they did not. FOR is a common concern and because it is not possible to identify patients based on clinical parameters, it is important to screen for FOR to direct patients to appropriate support and intervention.