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New insights into frequency and contents of fear of cancer progression/recurrence (FOP/FCR) in outpatients with colorectal carcinoma (CRC) receiving oral capecitabine: a pilot study at a comprehensive cancer center

Authors Hefner J, Berberich S, Lanvers E, Sanning M, Steimer A, Kunzmann V

Received 28 May 2017

Accepted for publication 25 July 2017

Published 14 November 2017 Volume 2017:11 Pages 1907—1914


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Johnny Chen

Jochen Hefner,1 Sara Berberich,2 Elena Lanvers,3 Maria Sanning,2 Ann-Kathrin Steimer,2 Volker Kunzmann4

1Section of Psychosomatic Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine II, University of Wuerzburg, 2Faculty of Medicine, University of Wuerzburg, Bavaria, 3Children’s Hospital of the City of Cologne, North Rhine-Westphalia, 4Section of Clinical Oncology, Department of Internal Medicine II, University of Wuerzburg, Bavaria, Germany

Background: Fear of cancer progression/recurrence (FOP/FCR) is considered one of the most prevalent sources of distress in cancer survivors and associated with lower quality of life and functional impairment. Detailed measures of FOP/FCR are needed because little is known about the knowledge of FOP/FCR, its associations with the patient–doctor relationship, and the rate of adequate therapy. Colorectal cancer (CRC) is one of the most prevalent cancer entities, and oral capecitabine is widely prescribed as treatment. Therefore, we initiated a pilot study to expand the literature on FOP/FCR in CRC outpatients receiving capecitabine and to generate hypotheses for future investigations.
Methods: This study included 58 patients treated at a comprehensive cancer center. FOP/FCR was assessed with the Fear of Progression Questionnaire (FOP-Q-SF). Satisfaction with the relationships with doctors was assessed with the Patient–Doctor Relationship Questionnaire-9 (PRDQ-9). Levels of side effects were rated by the patients on a visual analog scale. Clinical data were extracted from the charts.
Results: A total of 19 out of 58 patients (36%) suffered from FOP/FCR according to our assessment. Levels of FOP/FCR seemed to be mostly moderate to high. Only four out of the 19 distressed patients (21%) were treated accordingly. Typical side effects of oncological treatment were associated with higher FOP/FCR. Satisfaction with doctor–patient relationships was not associated with FOP/FCR. Regarding single items of FOP/FCR, three out of the five most prevalent fears were associated with close relatives.
Discussion: FOP/FCR occurred frequently in more than one in three patients, but was mostly untreated in this sample of consecutive outpatients with CRC receiving oral capecitabine. In detail, most fears were related to family and friends. In addition to an unmet need of patients, our data indicate sources of distress not considered thus far. If replicated in larger studies, results may help to inform intervention development and improve patient care.

Keywords: oral anticancer drugs, colorectal cancer, fear of progression, screening for distress, comprehensive management

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