Fear of cancer recurrence in Korean women after breast cancer treatment: A mixed methods study

Se Jin Hong, Nah Mee Shin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: This study aimed to identify the fear of cancer recurrence (FCR) among Korean breast cancer survivors and further explore their experiences based on their level of FCR. Methods: A mixed-methods study was conducted with a quantitative approach (phase I) followed by a qualitative approach (phase II) between August 2019 and February 2020.70 participants who completed the FCR inventory questionnaire were categorized into either high or low groups based on their FCR level. In phase II, in-depth interviews with 14 participants from phase I were conducted to explore their specific experiences of FCR. Results: 38 participants (54.3%) experienced high levels of FCR, characterized by higher severity of FCR, more reaction to triggers, higher stress levels, more functional impairments, more insight, and frequent reassurance-seeking behaviors than those with low levels of FCR. Differences in FCR levels by age were statistically significant (F = 6.83, p = .002), and participants younger than 50 years had significantly higher FCR scores than those aged 60 years and older. Of similarities and differences found between the two groups, qualitative findings showed that the experience of the high FCR group was characterized by “living with cancer but keeping a certain distance from fear of recurrence” and that of the low FCR group was characterized by “living a healing life while controlling latent fears.“ Conclusions: It is necessary to help those survivors who experience high FCR reduce its negative impact on their health. These findings can serve as a basis to develop a personalized approach with better understanding of the FCR among Korean women.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102010
JournalEuropean Journal of Oncology Nursing
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Oct

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to thank the survivors of breast cancer who participated in this study and the healthcare professionals who helped recruit them.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier Ltd


  • Breast cancer survivors
  • Experience
  • Fear of cancer recurrence
  • Mixed-methods study

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology(nursing)


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