Recurrence risk in orofacial cancer patients is relatively high in comparison to other cancers. Little information exists on whether patients are unduly concerned over the possibility of recurrence and the association of this concern with psychological morbidity. Aim of study was to assess fear of recurrence and psychological morbidity in orofacial cancer patients. Two samples of patients with orofacial cancer were followed prospectively. First sample (n=87) were consecutively drawn 3 months and 7 months following initial treatment. Second sample (n=100) were cross-sectionally drawn from out-patient list and followed 2 years later. A single question item was employed to assess fear of recurrence used in previous work. Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale was adopted as the measure of psychological morbidity. A prospective survey design was employed. Over 80% of patients expressed concern over the possibility of recurrence at 3 months post treatment. This level reduced to 72% at 7 months (P=0.06). Approximately two-thirds of patients sampled cross-sectionally were concerned at both assessment occasions. Psychological morbidity was greatest at 3 months post treatment (possible cases: anxiety 37% and depression 28%). Women were more likely to report anxiety (at possible case level) than men 3 months following treatment (P<0.05). Patients aged 65 or more years were less concerned about recurrence. This effect was significant on both occasions that sample two patients were assessed (P's<0.002). Very few patients who expressed no concern about recurrence, at 3 months, were found to report anxiety or depression sufficient to be recognized as a possible case (3 and 0% respectively). The positive association between psychological morbidity and fears of recurrence was significant at the majority of data collection points, with the exception that depression was more independent of these concerns.
Humphris, G., Rogers, S., McNally, D., Lee-Jones, C., Brown, J., & Vaughan, E. (2003). Fear of recurrence and possible cases of anxiety and depression in orofacial cancer patients. British Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, 32(5), 486-491. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0901-5027(03)90399-1