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Fear of cancer recurrence in males diagnosed with breast cancer



Fear of cancer recurrence (FCR) is a significant problem for individuals diagnosed with a variety of different cancers. To date, FCR has not been studied in males with breast cancer. The objective of this study was to examine the severity of FCR in males with breast cancer.


Males with breast cancer participated in an anonymous online survey and completed the Fear of Cancer Recurrence Inventory-Short Form scale (FCRI-SF). A frequency analysis was used to determine the percentage of participants that fell above or below the clinical cutoff for significant FCR. Regressions explored associations between FCR, age, cancer stage, time since diagnosis, and self-health rating.


Fifty-nine participants completed the FCRI-SF. The mean age of the sample was 63.5 and 93% reported their race as white. The mean FCR score was 23.9 and 61% reported clinically significant FCR. More than 80% of the sample experienced at least problematic levels of FCR. Increasing age was associated with decreased FCR.


Results of this study suggest that FCR is prevalent in men with breast cancer but larger studies with representative samples should be undertaken to better assess the prevalence of FCR in this population and compare it with other groups of patients. More attention is needed to understand the psychological distress experienced by men diagnosed and treated for breast cancer.

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Data availability

Data will not be deposited in a repository. Interested researchers are encouraged to contact the corresponding author for data sharing requests.

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We thank all the men who took our survey and the Male Breast Cancer Coalition and the Breast Cancer Network Australia for help with recruitment. We also thank Drs. Josh Rash and Eric Wibowo for reviewing our survey prior to launch.

Author information




Dr. Sheila Garland and Dr. Richard Wassersug contributed to the study conception and design. Material preparation, data collection and analysis were performed by Kathryn Dalton and Meghan Waterman. The first draft of the manuscript was written by Kathryn Dalton and all authors commented on previous versions of the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Sheila N. Garland.

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Ethics approval and consent to participate

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. The study was approved by Memorial University’s Health Research Ethics Board (No: # 2019.249). The authors affirm that all human research participants in this study participants provided informed consent to participate.

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The authors affirm that all human research participants in this study provided informed consent for publication.

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The authors have no relevant financial or non-financial interests to disclose.

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Dalton, K., Waterman, M., Wassersug, R. et al. Fear of cancer recurrence in males diagnosed with breast cancer. Support Care Cancer 29, 6183–6186 (2021).

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  • Male breast cancer
  • Fear of cancer recurrence
  • Anxiety
  • Male cancers
  • Sex/gender differences