The intrapersonal and interpersonal processes of fear of recurrence among cervical cancer survivors: a qualitative study

Yaira Hamama-Raz, Shiri Shinan-Altman, Inbar Levkovich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Objective: Cervical cancer’s emotional and mental toll often extends beyond the disease’s duration. Fear of cancer recurrence has been identified as prominent in patients and survivors, yet there is a paucity of studies regarding this population. The present study sought to explore and expand the understanding of the meaning of fear of cancer recurrence among cervical cancer survivors. Methods: In this qualitative study, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 15 cervical cancer survivors. The interviewees’ mean age was 41.33 years (range 34–47 years), and the mean time since diagnosis was 3.1 years (ranged from 0.5 to 7 years). Results: Three central themes emerged that represent intrapersonal and interpersonal processes: The first, “No longer resilient” refers to feelings of uncertainty in the face of the illness experienced on the intrapersonal level, where the interviewee mostly engaged with efforts to return to the “normal” state that existed before the cancer diagnosis. The second, “To be afraid in a dyad,” relates to the interpersonal level that included mutual fears shared by the interviewee and her partner. The third “And what if the disease comes back and I die?” represents a combination of intrapersonal and interpersonal processes manifested by the greatest fear — death — expressed by both the interviewee and her partner. Conclusions: The present findings revealed that the fear of cancer recurrence represents intrapersonal and interpersonal processes encompassing three factors — uncertainty, social-cognitive processing, and death anxiety. Accordingly, potential psycho-social treatment options could be tailored to specifically address the prominence of these factors for cervical cancer survivors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2671-2678
Number of pages8
JournalSupportive Care in Cancer
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature.


  • Cervical cancer
  • Fear of recurrence
  • Qualitative research
  • Survivors


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