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Fear of cancer recurrence and disease progression in long-term prostate cancer survivors after radical prostatectomy: A longitudinal study

  • Valentin H Meissner 1,
  • Lisa Olze 1,
  • Stefan Schiele 1,
  • Donna P Ankerst 2,
  • Matthias Jahnen 1,
  • J├╝rgen E Gschwend 1,
  • Kathleen Herkommer 1,
  • Andreas Dinkel 3
1 Department of Urology, Klinikum rechts der Isar, School of Medicine, Technical University of Munich, Munich, Germany 2 Departments of Mathematics and Life Science Systems, Technical University of Munich, Garching, Germany 3 Department of Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy, Klinikum rechts der Isar, School of Medicine, Technical University of Munich, Munich, Germany

Publication: Cancer, August 2021


Although fear of cancer recurrence (FCR) or disease progression is among the most endorsed unmet needs and concerns of cancer survivors, research on the course of FCR in long-term survivors is scarce. The objective of this study was to assess longitudinally the prevalence and predictors of FCR in long-term prostate cancer (PCa) survivors.


In all, 2417 survivors from the multicenter German Familial Prostate Cancer Database completed the Fear of Progression Questionnaire-Short Form on average 7 years (T1 in 2010) after radical prostatectomy and at follow-up 9 years later (T2 in 2019). Hierarchical multivariable logistic regression was used to assess predictors of FCR at follow-up.


The mean age at the initial assessment was 69.5 years (standard deviation, 5.9 years); 6.5% and 8.4% of patients reported clinical FCR at the initial assessment (T1) and at the follow-up (T2), respectively. In a multivariable analysis controlling for concurrent associations, longitudinal predictors of FCR 9 years later included a lower level of education (odds ratio [OR], 4.35; 95% confidence interval [CI], 2.33-8.33), years since radical prostatectomy (OR, 1.10; 95% CI, 1.03-1.18), biochemical recurrence (OR, 1.67; 95% CI, 1.02-2.72), no current adjuvant therapy (OR, 2.38; 95% CI, 1.19-4.76), FCR (OR, 10.75; 95% CI, 6.18-18.72), and anxiety (OR, 1.35; 95% CI, 1.06-1.72).


FCR remains a burden to certain PCa survivors even many years after their diagnosis and treatment. Health care professionals should monitor for FCR and identify patients at risk to provide appropriate psychosocial care because FCR is leading to limitations in quality of life and psychological well-being.