Fear of cancer recurrence in informal caregivers of childhood cancer survivors

Fatima Sagrario Espinoza-Salgado, Edgar Landa-Ramírez, Rebeca Robles

DOI: https://doi.org/10.17711/SM.0185-3325.2022.040


Background. Fear of cancer recurrence is one of the most distressing psychological consequences in cancer survivors and their informal primary caregivers (IPC). IPC of childhood cancer survivors (CCS) are often their mothers, which could intensify fear of cancer recurrence (FCR) and its impact on both IPC and CCS. However, the phenomenon has not been widely described in this specific population.

Objective. To summarize and analyze current evidence on the evaluation and management of FCR among IPC of CCS.

Method. A narrative review of studies included in four databases (PsycInfo, Medline, CINALH, and Web of Science) with no language or year of publication restrictions.

Results. Measures specifically developed to assess FCR among IPC of CCS comprising an interview and a questionnaire with initial psychometric evaluations and two short, online intervention programs based on cognitive-behavioral-contextual therapy were identified (ENGAGE and CASCAdE). Both have demonstrated acceptability in parents of CCS in high-income countries; preliminary evidence also exists of the effectivity of CASCAdE in reducing FCR.

Discussion and conclusion. Given the limitations of this area of psychological evaluation, the Fear of Cancer Recurrence Inventory, originally developed for adult cancer survivors, constitutes the most suitable tool for evaluating FCR among IPC of CCS. The CASCAdE program seems a promising intervention for IPC of CSS, although cultural adaptations, evaluations of its acceptability in low- and middle-income countries, and controlled studies in large samples are still required.


Fear of cancer recurrence; caregivers; childhood cancer; survivors

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