Prospective longitudinal study on fear of cancer recurrence in patients newly diagnosed with head and neck cancer: Course, trajectories, and associated factors

Esther Deuning-Smit*, José A. E. Custers, Špela Miroševič, Robert P. Takes, Femke Jansen, Johannes A. Langendijk, Chris H. J. Terhaard, Robert J. Baatenburg de Jong, C. René Leemans, Johannes H. Smit, Linda Kwakkenbos, Irma M. Verdonck-de Leeuw, Judith B. Prins

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: This study assessed the course of fear of cancer recurrence (FCR) in patients newly diagnosed with head and neck cancer (HNC), identified FCR trajectories and factors associated with FCR trajectories. Methods: Six hundred and seventeen HNC patients from the NET-QUBIC cohort study completed the Cancer Worry Scale-6 at diagnosis, 3 and 6 months post-treatment. FCR trajectories were identified using Latent Class Growth Analysis. Associations were explored between FCR trajectories and baseline demographic and medical variables, coping and self-efficacy. Results: Overall, FCR decreased slightly between baseline and 3 months post-treatment and remained stable up to 6 months. Two FCR trajectories were identified: “high stable” (n = 125) and “low declining” (n = 492). Patients with high stable FCR were younger, reported more negative adjustment, passive coping, and reassuring thoughts, and less avoidance. Conclusions: The majority of HNC patients have low declining FCR after diagnosis, but one in five patients experience persistent high FCR up to 6 months post-treatment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)914-925
Number of pages12
JournalHead and Neck
Issue number4
Early online date2022
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2022

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