Cancerophobia: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment


The cancerophobia , also called carcinofobia is persistent to contract for the first time a cancer or to be played again should have gone earlier fear.  

It is a pathological situation that causes real disorders and in which any physical symptom that can be felt is exaggerated. Fear has to be irrational, persistent in time and not justified.


On the other hand, hypochondria is related to cancerphobia. The hypochondriacal patient has a constant concern motivated by the fear of suffering from a disease, while in cancerphobia or another specific phobia only the possibility of acquiring it for the first time is feared or that it is repeated in case of people who have already suffered it (but without believing that you already have).



Causes of cancerophobia

The fear of suffering from cancer can be due to several reasons:

Fear that cancer may be hereditary

The possibility that cancer can be hereditary is very important in the likelihood of suffering from this phobia, especially when in the family there have already been cases of this disease.

Currently, genetic studies help to reduce the problem. Thanks to these, it is allowed to determine if certain genetic alterations have been inherited or not.

If it is positive, the patient is followed closely to detect the first signs that precede the disease and act immediately.

With these studies, not only the fear of suffering from cancer is reduced, but an optimistic attitude is adopted because the person can be conscious of not having genetic alterations that could trigger the disease.

Having a diagnosis of cancer

40% of those who receive this diagnosis need psychological and emotional support. Cancer abruptly affects the life of the patient, his family and the work and social environment.

There are changes in relationships with family, couple and friends, affecting their behavior in the generation of  feelings such as anger, anger, depression, or guilt.

Having overcome a cancer

When cancer has been and has been overcome, fear is centered on the fear that it will reappear.

The revisions that these patients periodically go through until, once they are finally cured, are discharged, should serve to reduce the fear of the reappearance of the disease.  

However, many patients go to the doctor more frequently for check-ups and remain alert to possible relapse. It has been proven through studies that there is no direct relationship between the real risk and the perceived risk of contracting the disease and that through exhausted information we can best manage fear.

The recommendations given by the American Society of Oncology to overcome the fear are the following: consult regularly with the specialist for subsequent care, remain well informed about recurrence patterns (reappearance of the disease), adopt a style of healthy life taking care of both food and regular physical exercise, try to reduce stress, spend a lot of time with friends and family and perform pleasant activities.

Genetics and family history

There are genetic burdens and family history that may favor or increase the chances of getting cancer, but nothing is taken for granted.

Not only the genetic factor is relevant to be able to contract this disease. There are risk factors that in most cases can be avoided such as poor eating habits or substance use.

There is also research that shows how Type C behavior pattern and cancer are related. In 1980, the researchers Morris and Greer raised the existence of a pattern of behavior that they called type C, but previously Gendron found that anxious and depressed women were prone to cancer.

It was in 1959, when Leshan conducted a literature review on this topic and concluded that hopelessness, loss and depression are often predictive factors in the onset of cancer.

The type C behavior pattern has the following characteristics:

  • Depression: depression is considered an additional factor in the development and onset of cancer. People who suffer from depression have a higher risk of dying from cancer years later.
  • Helplessness and despair: this factor is highly related to the appearance of cancer, which is why it is considered a good predictor of the development of cancer as well as relapses of the disease itself. Their way of coping with stressful situations of helplessness and hopelessness is quite related to the appearance of the disease or in the reappearance.
  • Lack of social support: the loss of important people in the social network of people can be an important factor that contributes to the development of cancer. Also, people with higher relapses of the disease have a greater number of losses of recent loved ones than those who do not relapse. There is research that concludes that the lack of social support can be associated with a low activity in NK cells, cells that have the capacity to destroy cancer cells when they appear, and, therefore, prevent the development of the disease.
  • Inability to demonstrate negative emotions: people who are prone to cancer show great difficulty in expressing emotions of anger, aggression, and other negative emotions, while expressing positive emotions (love, solidarity, etc.) in excess. They are people who are described as tending to keep negative emotions for themselves. That is, they feel these emotions but instead of expressing them in an assertive and appropriate way, they try to ignore them and cancel them without actually processing them correctly or solving the problem. They are usually kind and too concerned to please others.


The result of this set of thoughts towards the oncological disease is the fear of suffering it, which can cause even more suffering in the person than the pathology itself.

This concern can cause two opposite behaviors in the person: the desire to perform excessive unnecessary diagnostic tests or, on the contrary, to flee from carrying out any test for fear of diagnosing the pathology.

People affected by this phobia feel that if they are in contact with people suffering from this disease, they will be able to acquire it. Being next to a cancer patient, produces various symptoms and discomfort that make them think that the disease can spread throughout your body.

These fears are mainly associated with the fear of death, since, despite advances, cancer is still closely related to death.

Having a certain fear of developing a cancer or any other type of disease is normal in any individual. In fact, most people go through that fear at some point in their lives.  

In the case of those who suffer from this phobia, the fear is so intense that it paralyzes them and makes them dysfunctional, in these individuals any symptom is exaggerated. Some of the behaviors that these people adopt in consequence to this irrational fear are:

  • Avoid eating certain foods
  • Get out
  • Use certain products for self-care and that of your family, which makes life very obsessive.


It is very important that if you recognize the symptoms that I have described before and if you notice that this is affecting your daily life, you get in touch with a healthcare professional who can help you more directly to overcome your phobia.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy

The most common and most effective treatment for specific phobias, such as cancer phobia, is the treatment with psychological therapies, specifically cognitive-behavioral therapies.

This type of treatment will always have to be developed by a health specialist. Although this is the most common treatment, the ideal is to find a useful treatment that can be adapted to the needs and circumstances of each person to successfully overcome the situation.

In addition to getting reliable information that helps relativize apprehension (even about advanced treatment technologies), it is also important to talk with friends and family.

Social support

Social support in this phobia is very important. People close to you can be very helpful in relieving stress and anxiety, as well as talking to people who have survived cancer to build a realistic view of the possibilities of overcoming the disease, as well as the causes necessary to contract it.


It is always a good time to adopt a lifestyle healthy. It is vital to understand that getting sick does not always mean that we are going to have an unfavorable outcome.

There are steps that can take place, which are under our control and allow us to substantially improve our health and quality of life, while decreasing the risk of suffering from certain diseases. If we go to the doctor in time, we can detect the disease in initial stages, with a high percentage of cures and with few sequelae in us.

What is cancer?

Cancer, unfortunately, is one of the most common diseases in society today, but also with a percentage of patients who manage to overcome it, thanks to an early diagnosis of the disease.

Cancer is a disease caused by abnormal overgrowth of cells. There are more than one hundred types of cancer, depending on which cell grows. In many types of cancer, cells clump together and form solid tumors. In contrast, in some cells are scattered in the bloodstream (as is the case of leukemia) or in the lymphatic system (lymphoma).

The cancer prognosis has improved greatly over the years and thanks to advances in treatment and early detection programs. Even so, although survival rates have increased, cancer remains one of the leading causes of death.

Is an early diagnosis possible?

Misdiagnosis of cancer is possible, but it is not common if professional medical attention is sought.

Doctors will usually perform comprehensive diagnostic tests if they believe there is a possibility of cancer.

Diagnostic tests have also improved in accuracy, including blood tests of more complete tumor markers.  

The self-diagnosis of cancer is usually incorrect, although it is quite common for people to believe that they suffer from cancer due to symptoms related to the disease (such as weight loss, headaches or migraines, etc.), without being aware that These symptoms are usually the cause of other diseases or minor pathologies.

Also Read:Philemaphobia: Symptoms, Causes and Treatments

On the other hand, it is more common than it should be for people to have cancer and not know it, because many types of cancer have a slow onset without early symptoms and develop over time until they are so advanced that the patient account for some crisis suffered more intense.

For this reason it is very valuable to perform regular monitoring and control of various types of cancer to prevent severe cases in which it is diagnosed late and where the disease, unfortunately, is already too advanced.