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Hematol Oncol Stem Cell Ther. 2018 Sep;11(3):129-134. doi: 10.1016/j.hemonc.2018.01.005. Epub 2018 Feb 19.

Damocles' syndrome revisited: Update on the fear of cancer recurrence in the complex world of today's treatments and survivorship.

Author information

1
Mayo Medical School, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, USA. Electronic address: cupit-link.margaret@mayo.edu.
2
Biobehavioral Sciences Department, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA, USA; Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA, USA.
3
Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, USA.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE/BACKGROUND:

Improvements in curative treatments for many types of cancer have emerged over the past several decades, resulting in a growing population of long-term cancer survivors - of both adult and childhood cancers. Despite this incredible medical achievement, long-term survivors of cancer face a unique fear: the fear of relapse.

METHODS:

We conducted a review of the literature for data on fear of relapse among cancer survivors.

RESULTS:

The fear of cancer recurrence is present in survivors of childhood and adult cancers as well as family members and often leads to psychological sequelae.

CONCLUSION:

Literature on the fear of cancer recurrence has begun to emerge. However, herein we provide a unique approach through the use of a metaphor: Cicero's story of Damocles' sword. We aim to outline the many fear-related and emotional challenges faced by cancer survivors with an extensive review of studies demonstrating such challenges.

KEYWORDS:

Anxiety; Cancer; Fear of recurrence; Relapse; Survivorship

PMID:
29476707
PMCID:
PMC6098978
DOI:
10.1016/j.hemonc.2018.01.005
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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