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19.10.2018 | Ausgabe 6/2018

Journal of Cancer Survivorship 6/2018

Assessing the relationship between fear of cancer recurrence and health care utilization in early-stage breast cancer survivors

Journal of Cancer Survivorship > Ausgabe 6/2018
Amy K. Otto, Emily C. Soriano, Scott D. Siegel, Stefanie T. LoSavio, Jean-Philippe Laurenceau
Wichtige Hinweise

Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1007/​s11764-018-0714-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Amy K. Otto is now located at Moffitt Cancer Center, 12902 USF Magnolia Drive, Tampa, FL 33612, USA.



The purpose of this study was to determine whether fear of cancer recurrence (FCR) is associated with greater health care utilization (HCU) in early-stage breast cancer survivors.


Three hundred early-stage breast cancer survivors diagnosed within the past 7 years reported on FCR as well as calls and visits to oncology providers and primary care providers during the preceding 3 months. Participants also reported on use of mental health services and psychotropic medications since diagnosis. Structural equation modeling was used to create a latent FCR factor and evaluate this factor as a predictor of various HCU outcomes controlling for age at diagnosis, years since diagnosis, generalized anxiety, objective risk of recurrence, and number of comorbidities.


FCR predicted more visits to both oncology providers (RR = 1.53, p = .002) and primary care providers (RR = 1.31, p = .013), as well as more phone calls to oncology providers (RR = 2.08, p = .007). FCR was not a significant predictor of phone calls to primary care providers (RR = 1.39, p = .054), utilization of mental health treatment (OR = 1.27, p = .362), or use of psychotropic medications (OR = 1.37, p = .178).


FCR was associated with increases in some types of HCU, which may reflect excessive medical reassurance-seeking and lead to unnecessary medical costs.

Implications for Cancer Survivors

FCR is a serious concern that warrants greater attention to reduce distress-related health care utilization. Utilization of mental health services to address FCR may represent higher-value health care.

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