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Coping with Scanxiety During Cancer Treatment

Read Time: 1 minute

Two people comforting each other while anxious and stressed.

Anxiety around medical scans can be a common challenge before, during, and after cancer treatment. Scans provide important information about what the next steps in your cancer experience may be.

What is scanxiety?

A feeling of dread, fear or uncertainty revolving around a scan. Sometimes it interferes with sleep, eating, focus, or motivation. It can make you irritable, tired, sad, or overwhelmed. In some cases, it might be hard to explain what you are anxious about.

When does scanxiety typically occur?

You may experience scanxiety before, during, and after testing. Testing schedules are based on your type of cancer and stage of treatment. This can lead to a regular cycle of scanxiety.

Patient undergoes CT scan for lung cancer screening.

Unfortunately, scanxiety does not necessarily disappear when your health improves. It is normal to be afraid of your cancer returning or your disease progressing.

What can I do?

As a patient, recognize that this is normal. If it helps, learn more about the scan and what the results could mean. If it doesn’t help, stay away from internet searches and focus more on distracting yourself and finding ways to relax. Lean on your loved ones to talk about your fears and concerns. Professional support can help you develop healthy coping strategies or provide medicine.

As a caregiver, be understanding and listen to your loved one’s concerns. Take care of yourself as well. Scanxiety can impact you just as much as the one who has cancer.

For more information, visit our Cancer Learning Center, the Wellness and Integrative Health Center, or contact a social worker or support group.

Cancer touches all of us.