At Beatson Cancer Charity we fund many service developments and enhancements to existing NHS services. One our proudest inactivates has been our Fear of Recurrence Programme, which helps support former breast cancer patients through group Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).
Fear of cancer recurrence (FCR) is defined as the fear or worry that cancer will return, progress or metastasise. FCR is one of the most commonly reported problems and one of the most prevalent areas of unmet need for cancer survivors and their families
This fear is experienced by many patients following active treatment. However, some patients develop more severe, longer-term, and debilitating levels of anxiety and stress.
ACT helps facilitate meaningful behaviour change through increasing emotional acceptance of difficult psychological experience and encouraging re-connection with or identifying new values), it has been found to be helpful with a range of medical conditions not just cancer,
Research suggests that individuals can present with emotional distress soon after active treatment has finished. During this transition is one in which former patients express the need for support to help adjust emotionally.
The Fear of Recurrence programme is a group intervention as a means of delivering evidence-based psychological support, targeted at reducing fears of cancer recurrence amongst a group of breast cancer patients.
Based on the ACT Conquer Fear intervention, the project clinicians have adapted the intervention as a 6-week group programme, which includes both practical and psychological coping techniques for managing the ‘what if’ worries, patients often confront following completion of active treatment.
The programme aims to reduce participants’ fear of cancer recurrence and improve their overall coping capacity for emotional distress.
An important component of our programme is to provide information and education about:
- Dealing with the presence of new physical symptoms following cancer treatment
- General guidelines for how and when to seek medical advice for suspected recurrence
- Lifestyle strategies for reducing the risk of recurrent cancer
Along with a variety of worry management techniques including deep relaxation and mindfulness throughout the programme.
Referrals are accepted from any professional supporting a person at the end of treatment, including Primary and Secondary Care, 3rd Sector and self-referral.
The main requirement is that the distress associated with fear of cancer recurrence is having a significant impact on a you or a person’s quality of life.
For more information, please talk to your health professional, call us direct on 0141 301 7263 or email Fiona who runs the programme here: Fiona.Sinclair5@ggc.scot.nhs.uk
Read more about out Fear or Recurrence in our Q&A with Dr Christine Bonathan who gives an insight into how the Fear of Recurrence programme works.