Journal of Cancer Survivorship

, Volume 4, Issue 4, pp 361–371 | Cite as

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

  • Sébastien SimardEmail author
  • Josée Savard
  • Hans Ivers



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.


Cancer Fear of recurrence Intrusive thoughts Worries Obsessions Cluster analysis 



This research was based on the Ph.D. dissertation of Sébastien Simard, Ph.D., conducted under the direction of Josée Savard, Ph.D. This study was funded by IDEA grants from the Canadian Prostate Cancer Research Initiative (#014420) and the Canadian Breast Cancer Research Alliance (#014459), and a studentship and a scientist award from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research awarded to the first and second author, respectively. The authors wish to acknowledge the important contribution of Jean-Marie Boisvert, Ph.D., Josée Rhéaume, Ph.D., Lise Fillion, Ph.D., Robert Ladouceur, Ph.D., Zeev Rosberger, Ph.D., Claudia Trudel-Fitzgerald, Élaine Thériault, Julie Maheux, Julie Roy, Marie-Ève Lemay and Nathalie Gagnon.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sébastien Simard
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • Josée Savard
    • 1
    • 2
  • Hans Ivers
    • 2
  1. 1.School of PsychologyUniversité LavalQuébecCanada
  2. 2.Laval University Cancer Research CenterQuébecCanada
  3. 3.Institut universitaire de cardiologie et de pneumologie de Québecchemin Ste-FoyCanada

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