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OBJECTIVE: The fear of cancer recurrence (FCR) in later survivorship can lead to poorer mental health, quality of life and physical and functional recovery. Later-occurring FCR may be a consequence of late-emerging physical symptoms and functional problems from cancer or its treatment. Based on the self-regulation model, we predicted that persistent or escalating symptoms and functional problems would prospectively predict FCR observed 2-5 years after diagnosis and treatment. METHODS: This is a five-year study of 708 uveal melanoma (UM) patients, measuring self-reported visual and ocular symptoms, functional problems and FCR at 6, 12, 24, 36, 48 and 60 months post-diagnosis. A mixed measures design over four levels with observations staggered to represent prospective prediction. Criterion variables were FCR at 24, 36, 48 and 60 months. Predictors were symptom and function scores measured at the previous two observations to FCR. Controls were FCR measured at the previous observation to the criterion FCR measure and demographic, clinical and treatment variables. RESULTS: Linear mixed modelling showed that FCR was uniquely predicted by enduring symptoms, those that emerged two observations previously, but not symptoms arising at the previous observation. FCR was predicted by functional problems, which emerged in the observation prior to FCR, but not the observation previous to that. CONCLUSIONS: Persistent or emerging post-treatment symptoms and functional limitations are probable risk factors for late-occurring FCR in UM survivors. IMPLICATIONS FOR CANCER SURVIVORS: Monitoring symptoms and functional limitations assists in identifying at-risk survivors and targeting preventive interventions. Self-regulation theory suggests that helping survivors to more realistically appraise symptoms and functional problems may prevent FCR.

Original publication




Journal article


J Cancer Surviv

Publication Date



Fear of cancer recurrence, Functional limitations, Oncology, Symptoms, Uveal melanoma