Objective/background: Improvements in curative treatments for many types of cancer have emerged over the past several decades, resulting in a growing population of long-term cancer survivors – of both adult and childhood cancers. Despite this incredible medical achievement, long-term survivors of cancer face a unique fear: the fear of relapse.
Methods: We conducted a review of the literature for data on fear of relapse among cancer survivors.
Results: The fear of cancer recurrence is present in survivors of childhood and adult cancers as well as family members and often leads to psychological sequelae.
Conclusion: Literature on the fear of cancer recurrence has begun to emerge. However, herein we provide a unique approach through the use of a metaphor: Cicero’s story of Damocles’ sword. We aim to outline the many fear-related and emotional challenges faced by cancer survivors with an extensive review of studies demonstrating such challenges.