Theoretical Rationale and Case Illustration of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for Fear of Cancer Recurrence

  • Christina M. LubertoEmail author
  • Daniel L. Hall
  • Emma Chad-Friedman
  • Elyse R. Park


Fear of cancer recurrence (FCR) is a common problem among cancer survivors and evidence-based interventions grounded in theoretical models are needed. Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) is an evidence-based intervention for reducing health anxiety that could be useful to apply to FCR. However, there has only been one study of MBCT for FCR to date, and the theoretical rationale and practical application of MBCT for FCR has not been described. The purpose of this paper is to offer an evidence-based rationale for MBCT to treat FCR based on a health anxiety model; describe the process of adapting MBCT to target FCR; and present a case study of the adapted protocol for treating FCR in a young adult breast cancer survivor to illustrate its delivery, feasibility, acceptability, and associated changes in outcomes. Clinical implications and directions for future research are discussed.


Cancer Fear of recurrence Health anxiety Mindfulness Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy 



This study was supported by funds from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (T32AT000051; CML, DLH) and National Cancer Institute (K24CA197832; ERP).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

Christina M. Luberto, Daniel L. Hall, Emma Chad-Friedman, and Elyse R. Park declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Informed Consent

This study was deemed exempt from IRB approval. The patient gave permission for her case to be described with anonymity.

Research Involving Human Participants

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.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christina M. Luberto
    • 1
    • 2
    • 4
    Email author
  • Daniel L. Hall
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  • Emma Chad-Friedman
    • 2
  • Elyse R. Park
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Behavioral Medicine Program, Department of PsychiatryMassachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  2. 2.Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine, Department of PsychiatryMassachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  3. 3.Cancer Outcomes ResearchMassachusetts General HospitalBostonUSA
  4. 4.Mongan Institute Health Policy CenterMassachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA

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