5 Practical ways to cope with Scanxiety for cancer patients

A breast cancer patient was waiting for her turn to get tested. To confirm whether she is suffering from Breast Cancer, testing needs to be done but she refused to test. Can testing be that frightening?


Scanxiety is a fear felt by people with cancer as they wait for their next scan. It makes us feel anxious, uneasy and worried. It is usually experienced by the patient before experiencing a scan or receiving the results of the test.


Undergoing thorough scans and test is now common, but if you are Cancer patient you need to undergo tests right from the first diagnosis, to getting a scan done and then getting scans at every stage of cancer to know whether the tumour has disappeared, shrunk or recovered.


You might not be aware, but patients also face a different level of Scanxiety. Scanxiety is a universal experience faced by Cancer patients before undergoing tests.


What are the reasons for this fear?


This mainly happens by listening to cancer patients who have experienced negative situations. Patients get feelings of insecurity, increased heart rate, sweaty palms and nausea are a few common symptoms seen in a patient before the scan.


Not every Doctor pays attention to it, but it’s something that must be taken care of. If you are anxious about an upcoming scan, you may find these 5 practical ways to cope with scanxiety. Based on my experience over 10 years and the participation of others in the cancer community, you can avoid scanxiety with these tips.


1. Give freedom to your feelings:

Allow yourself to be angry and feel scary. You might shout, get irritated with the people around you. It’s okay, let it happen. But if something negative happens, tackle it with positivity. Incase your fear is overwhelming, then get in touch with your Doctor or Health-care team to let them know your feelings so that the process can go smoothly.


2. Research about your medical test:

If you are feeling anxious before your scan, do this – when you are about to visit a new place you are keen to know everything about the place. Similarly, when are about to undergo a scan, watch some video or read about the process. Plan in advance who will come with you for scanning so that you can share your fears with him/her.

Tip: Have ear-phones with you to listen to your favourite song or music while waiting for a scan test – to keep yourself away from negative thoughts. 


3. Get enough sleep to cope scanxiety

If you don’t sleep enough it can worsen your stress and anxiety levels. It may harm your immune system and negatively affect you. Sleeping for at least 8-9 hours each night is must, especially when your scan is only a day away. Having a warm bath, reading self-help books and meditating are some practical ways to cope with scanxiety.


4. Avoid Flashback

Don’t focus on your past, as it will weigh upon your current mental status. You might try to predict the results of a scan or what the doctor will advise you in your next appointment. Engage with your cherished ones to keep yourself busy.


5. Pay Attention to your Breathing:

Stress leads to shallow breathing, which does not allow sufficient oxygen to enter your body and makes you even more anxious. The good thing about breathing is, that you can control it anytime. Always remember, when you feel stressed, practice slow, deep abdominal breaths.


“What makes you worry about the scan, just its result right? Will I be detected with Cancer? Has my tumour disappeared or shrunk? I choose not to worry, regardless of what happens and what will happen during the scan or in my life. I also choose not to fear – what might happen in future. Worrying won’t help! What has to occur will occur and hence, there is no point in worrying,” says Dr Amit Gandhi

Leave a Reply

Open chat