Relationships Between Fear of Cancer Recurrence and Lifestyle Factors Among Cancer Survivors

  • Sarah C. ReedEmail author
  • Janice F. Bell
  • Diana L. Miglioretti
  • Larissa Nekhlyudov
  • Nathan Fairman
  • Jill G. Joseph


We examine the relationships between fear of cancer recurrence (FCR), physical activity, smoking status, and engagement in healthier habits in a US population-based sample of post-treatment cancer survivors. We used data from the 2011 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) Experience with Cancer Survivorship Supplement. Multivariable logistic regression was used to test the relationship of FCR to physical activity, smoking status, and engagement in healthier habits. In all analyses, MEPS survey weights were applied to account for the survey design. Compared with those reporting no FCR, survivors reporting high FCR had significantly lower odds of reporting that they were not currently smokers (odds ratio [OR] = 0.46; 95% CI 0.24, 0.91) and those with any level of FCR had significantly higher odds of reporting healthier habits since diagnosis relative to those with no FCR (low FCR OR = 1.97; 95% CI 1.36, 2.85; high FCR OR = 2.40; 95% CI 1.33, 4.32). FCR was not associated with the odds of reporting physical activity. Findings from this large population-based survey suggest that some of survivors’ lifestyle factors may be related to their level of FCR. Understanding the effects of FCR on lifestyle factors may help survivors, survivorship care providers, and policy makers better understand important differences among cancer survivors and personalize interventions in clinical care.


Cancer survivorship Health behavior Physical activity 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants performed by any of the authors.


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© American Association for Cancer Education 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Betty Irene Moore School of NursingUniversity of CaliforniaSacramentoUSA
  2. 2.Division of Biostatistics, Department of Public Health Sciences, School of MedicineUniversity of CaliforniaDavisUSA
  3. 3.Department of MedicineBrigham and Women’s HospitalBostonUSA
  4. 4.Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, School of MedicineUniversity of CaliforniaSacramentoUSA
  5. 5.Comprehensive Cancer CenterUniversity of CaliforniaSacramentoUSA

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