Fear of cancer recurrence promotes cancer screening behaviors among family caregivers of cancer survivors

Emi Takeuchi, Youngmee Kim, Kelly M. Shaffer, Rachel S. Cannady, Charles S. Carver

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Background: Fear of cancer recurrence (FCR) has been associated with cancer screening behaviors among cancer survivors, but to the authors' knowledge, the question of whether the same is true for caregivers is unknown. The current study investigated the extent to which FCR among caregivers predicted their cancer screening behaviors years after their relatives' cancer diagnosis. Methods: A total of 813 caregivers (67% of whom were female, mean age of 56 years, and 92% non-Hispanic white) completed surveys 2 years (T1) and 8 years (T2) after their patients' cancer diagnosis. FCR, anxiety (Profile of Mood States-Short Form [POMS-SF]), and general mental health (Medical Outcomes Study 36-Item Short-Form Health Survey [MOS SF-36]) were reported at T1; caregivers' engagement in screening for colorectal, breast, and prostate cancers because of the patients' diagnoses were reported at T2. Results: Caregivers were found to engage in cancer screening at rates similar to those of the national average. Controlling for covariates, hierarchical logistic regression modeling for each type of cancer screening demonstrated that greater FCR was linearly related to a higher likelihood of undergoing colorectal cancer screening (odds ratio [OR], 1.15) and maintaining prostate cancer screening (OR, 1.34), but a lower likelihood of maintaining breast cancer screening in an age-appropriate manner (OR, 0.27). Examining curvilinear effects demonstrated that moderate levels of FCR were associated with a higher likelihood of maintaining age-appropriate colorectal cancer screening (OR, 1.48). Conclusions: The overall FCR among caregivers uniquely promotes their engagement in cancer screening behaviors. The role of caregivers' FCR in other types of cancer preventive behaviors and ways to channel FCR concerns into promoting healthy lifestyle behaviors should be investigated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1784-1792
Number of pages9
Issue number8
StatePublished - Apr 15 2020


  • age-appropriate cancer screening
  • cancer screening
  • cancer screening maintenance
  • caregivers
  • fear of cancer recurrence
  • longitudinal study

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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