Life after cancer: Transforming the post-treatment experience

Coping with post-treatment fear, anxiety and stress

For many people, the emotional toll of a cancer diagnosis continues well after treatment ends. As they transition from specialty cancer care back to primary care, they usually have questions about what happens next — but are often left without adequate support or a clear understanding of who to see or where to go.

Some of the emotional challenges they face include:

  • stress and worry about cancer returning
  • depression, sadness or loss of interest in everyday things
  • altered sense of self
  • changes in sexual intimacy
  • changes in body image
  • financial stress
  • changes in relationships with family, partners, friends and co-workers

Yet they often have a tough time expressing these concerns to primary care providers. In some cases, this is because:1

  • someone told them their problems are normal, so they think nothing can be done
  • they don’t feel comfortable asking
  • they’re too embarrassed to ask

The Partnership has supported efforts to build a person-centred and culturally safe system that ensures everyone has timely, equitable access to services that can help address emotional concerns at every stage of the cancer journey.

Shining a spotlight on the emotional challenges of survivorship

Much of the information on this page comes from the Experiences of Patients in Transition Study: Emotional Challenges bulletin published by the Partnership in 2018. It looks at the emotional needs and challenges of people living with cancer, specifically how individuals of different genders and different types of cancer experience and seek help for emotional concerns. It also highlights key areas for strategic action to improve the transition from specialty cancer treatment to primary and community care.

See how Iqra deals with her anxiety and fears of cancer recurrence

  1. Canadian Partnership Against Cancer. Experiences of cancer patients in transition study: Emotional challenges [Internet]. The Partnership; 2018 [cited 2024 Jan 26]. Available from: