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Psychosomatics. 2011 Sep-Oct;52(5):417-23. doi: 10.1016/j.psym.2011.01.014.

Anxiety disorders in long-term survivors of adult cancers.

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  • 1Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center, Boston, MA 02114, USA.



Little is known about the prevalence of anxiety disorders among long-term survivors of adult cancers. Using data from the National Comorbidity Survey Replication (NCS-R), we compared rates of anxiety disorders between long-term cancer survivors and individuals without a history of cancer.


A nationally representative sample of 9282 adults participated in a household survey to assess the prevalence of DSM-IV psychiatric disorders, a subset of whom also answered questions about medical comorbidities, including cancer. Long-term survivors were defined as those who received an adult cancer diagnosis at least 5 years before the survey. Multiple logistic regression analyses were used to examine associations between cancer history and anxiety disorders in the past year.


The NCS-R sample consisted of 225 long-term cancer survivors and 5337 people without a history of cancer. Controlling for socio-demographic variables, long-term cancer survivors were more likely to have an anxiety disorder (odds ratio [OR]: 1.49, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.04-2.13), including specific phobia (OR: 1.59, 95% CI: 1.06-2.44) and medical phobia (OR: 3.45, 95% CI: 1.15-10.0), during the past 12 months compared with those without cancer histories. Rates for social anxiety disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, panic disorder, and agoraphobia were not significantly different between groups.


Long-term survivors of adult cancers were more likely to have an anxiety disorder diagnosis, namely specific phobia, in the past 12 months compared with the general public. Further longitudinal study is needed to clarify the timing and course of anxiety relative to the cancer diagnosis.

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