The Fear of Recurrence

November 9, 2022

Before discussing reading this review, it is important to note that all breast cancer journeys are different and individualized. Individuals should consult with their physicians for further questions.

According to a recent article written by Orr (2022), the fear of recurrence can often be another step in an individual’s breast cancer journey which may be followed by questions of how to lower one’s risk. The article further explained that at the Breast Cancer Coalition of Rochester, Michelle Shayne, a breast cancer specialist, and genetics counselor spoke about the fear of recurrence. Shayne highlighted possible steps and topics to consider that may lower the risk of recurrence such as environment, age, alcohol, diet, and exercise. In terms of the environment, Shayne reassured that “most people have some control over their lifestyle choices and can learn how exposures might contribute to risk,” (Orr, 2022). Within the environment, lifestyle choices are also important to be aware of such as smoking, or exercise. Shayne highlighted that exercise is important when navigating a breast cancer journey because of how it can impact genes. According to the University of Rochester Medical Center, “exercise can change how genes express themselves, leading to what scientists call beneficial epigenetic modifications.” (Orr, 2022) The article further explained that according to the University of Rochester Medical Center, the diet that an individual partakes in can potentially contribute to the risk of recurrence. Shayne noted that there are various diets in society but to find one that fits each person’s lifestyle the best. Two recommendations were a plant-based or Mediterranean diet because they are “healthy, not extreme, [and]sustainable,” (Orr, 2022)

The article continues by sharing that additional topics Shayne discussed were sugar, organic foods, Vitamin D, chemicals in food or products, and stress. In terms of sugar and organic foods, it was recommended to remain informed of the ingredients in foods along with added risk. Shayne discussed that the total removal of dietary sugars will not eliminate sugar created from other sources, therefore the adoption of remaining mindful of sugars consumed could be a beneficial approach. Their recommendation was to “avoid sugary/carbonated beverages and fruit drinks.” (Orr, 2022) According to the article, potential substitutes were fruits and vegetables, which still provide the body with natural sugar, without including processed ingredients. Shayne also initiated a discussion related added chemicals in products that are used commonly by consumers. Some of the products mentioned were hair dyes, fragrances, sunscreens, and plastics. The article explained that the reason for being informed of chemicals in products is because of the potential increased risk of breast cancer found in these items. It was suggested to educate oneself on the ingredients used in products by individuals and be aware of what one consumes. According to the article, Shayne highlighted that stress can be a possible contributor to increased risk. However, “Shayne notes that stress is difficult to measure,” (Orr, 2022). Instead, Shayne recommended individuals identify activities or habits that help decrease their stress and to practice self-care. Lastly, the article reiterated the importance of speaking with one’s physician and that each person’s journey is unique. 


Orr, L. (19, October 2022). How to lower your risk of breast cancer recurrence. University of Rochester Medical Center. Retrieved from:



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