Carcinophobia Fear of Cancer- Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

 Fear of cancer


There would probably be not a single person who wants to get sick. Moreover, all people dread of deadly diseases like cancer. Then, there’s another group of people who are extensively scared that they themselves or a loved one might get cancer. This fear is over the extreme than the normal anxiety. Such type of fear has been termed as carcinophobia.

It has been derived from Greek word “carcino” which means cancer. A person having carcinophobia is so much anxious that he/she may not even leave home, and constantly go through periods of panicking. In almost all cases, the fear is irrelevant and pose no actual risk of cancer in actual.

What Causes Carcinophobia?

Carcinophobia can be caused by various environmental and biological factors. These are:

A traumatic experience

Carcinophobia can be majorly caused by a related traumatic experience. A person may start fearing cancer after going through a real ordeal of cancer or seeing someone else go through it. The phobia may be caused even through intense movies and internet flicks showing the suffering of cancer as well. It is also related with fearing that one would lose a loved one, or go through an untimely death.

Genetic factors

Phobias have always been associated with heredity and genes. It has been seen that the fear may also be passed through one’s forefathers and family genes. If one has a previous family history of this kind of phobia or even other health related phobias, there’s high possibility to be carcinophobic.

The Symptoms of Carcinophobia

Major symptoms that indicate carcinophobia in people are:

  • Constant and intense fear of cancer ( either fearing that one would get cancer or fearing that a loved one would get cancer)
  • Persistently worrying about one’s health
  • Going for extensive health checkups to make sure that their health is well
  • Distressed and upset almost all times about dying or getting sick
  • Panic attacks accompanied by physical signs such as shivering, sweating, dizziness or fainting, increased heartbeat, dry mouth, feeling confused, muscle tension, nausea or vomiting, hot or cold flushes and abdominal discomfort

When to Visit a doctor?

This kind of phobia can make a person constantly worried about health and stay depressed. It can interfere with a person’s family and social relationships, and also disturb the professional life. If the above symptoms have been occurring for more than six months time and disrupted the everyday life of a person, visit to a doctor is must.

How is Carcinophobia Treated?

Carcinophobia can be treated using a series of psychotherapies and medicines. It should be noted that medicines are not the major solution for any kind of phobia and anxiety.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT is the main psychotherapy that can help dealing with any phobia and anxiety.CBT is a psychotherapy focused on understanding the negative thoughts and images associated with the anxiety. The mental health worker conducts different talking and sharing sessions with the person, and lets him share his thoughts. Based on this, the therapist counsels the person, and convinces to not be fearful. The main goal of CBT is to replace those negative thoughts into positive ones.

Alongside, the therapist may also guide through meditation, mind visualization and relaxation methods to calm down the fearful senses.


Medicines may be used to control the symptoms. Commonly used medicines are anti-anxiety and anti-depressant medicines. These help to adjust brain chemicals such as Serotonin(a compound present in blood platelets and serum that constricts the blood vessels and acts as a neurotransmitter.) which are the mood regulators of our body.