, Volume 4, Issue 4, pp 361-371
Date: 10 Jul 2010

Fear of cancer recurrence: specific profiles and nature of intrusive thoughts

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Although the fear of cancer recurrence (FCR) is to varying degrees almost universal in cancer survivors, few studies have been carried out specifically on this issue partly because of the complexity and the heterogeneity of the phenomenon.


To explore the presence of specific profiles of FCR and to describe the nature of intrusive thoughts associated with FCR.


A medical database was used to randomly select a large pool of French-Canadian patients who had been treated for breast, prostate, lung, or colorectal cancer within the past ten years. A sample of 1 984 participants completed, by mail, the Fear of Cancer Recurrence Inventory (FCRI) and the Cognition Intrusive Questionnaire (CIQ).


Cluster analysis revealed four distinct groups of FCR patients: Mild FCR-Low Copers, Mild FCR-High Copers, Moderate FCR-High Copers and High FCR-High Copers. Percentages of endorsement obtained on CIQ items suggested that intrusive thoughts associated with FCR share many characteristics with worries (i.e., egosyntonic, verbal content). However, intrusive thoughts associated with High FCR presented more characteristics of obsessions.


There are different profiles of FCR, which vary according to its severity and the type of coping strategies used. Characteristics of intrusive thoughts associated with FCR suggested different targets for FCR specific intervention.