According to the most recent estimates, around 85 percent of the women who are diagnosed with breast cancer will live to become a long-term survivor. This coupled with the advancements being made from researchers and scientists who are working year round to develop innovative and more effective methods of treatment, means that there is a lot for breast cancer patients to be optimistic about in 2012. However, there is still a fear which looms over those who have defeated their disease and made it through the demanding treatments, and this is the fear of recurrence. It is a thought that can weigh quite heavily on the minds of breast cancer survivors during a time when they need to be emotionally sound.
A Fear that Won’t Let Go
Researchers from the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute in Tampa, FL have been examining these particularly strong anxieties of breast cancer recurrence among survivors, and the results have been troubling. It seems that this fear that the disease will come back can continue to haunt survivors for a long time, even years after they have successfully completed their treatment. The Moffitt study, which was published earlier this year in Pyscho-Oncology, focused primarily on breast cancer survivors who had completed their treatment at least 3 years ago, and yet most of these women were still struggling with a moderate level of anxiety over this issue.
An Inflated View on Breast Cancer Recurrence
One of the first things that researchers examined during this breast cancer clinical study was what appeared to be a relatively strong correlation between the anxiety over recurrence and the lingering side effects of cancer that were still present in the participants. Indeed, it would make sense that someone would be worried about their cancer coming back, when they are constantly being reminded of what they went through in the first place.
In the end, there actually turned out to be a whole other reason why these women were feeling so anxious. It appeared that most of the participants in the study had developed a distorted view on what their risk of recurrence really was. Somehow, they had gotten it into their heads that the chance of having their disease return was much greater than their actual statistical average (this gets calculated by their oncologist). If you ever took statistics, this means that the participant’s perceived risk was much greater than their actual risk. Oddly enough, it seemed that most of the participants had not been able to accurately absorb the much less frightening results provided by their oncologists.
Letting Go of the Anxiety
Looking forward, breast cancer survivors who are dealing with a high level of anxiety over their recurrence risk should schedule an appointment with their oncology team as soon as possible. By having an open and direct discussion about what their true risk is, they can start letting some of this anxiety go and get back to living a life that has been out rightly earned. Don’t let this disease hold you captive, because it can greatly diminish one’s quality of life. Breast cancer took enough of your time from diagnosis through treatment, and now it is time to have the life that you fought for back!