June 2, 2023— Every cancer journey is unique. But one thing cancer survivors have in common: They know what it's like to have the results of a test or scan change their lives. So it's not surprising that many survivors experience anxiety while waiting for the results of their latest test or scan.
Learn to cope with scanxiety
If you are worried or anxious when you have a test or scan on your schedule—or while waiting for the results—you're not alone. There are steps you can take to ease your fears and feel more in control. This advice from the American Cancer Society, the American Society of Clinical Oncology and the National Institutes of Health can help.
Ask questions. Find out what to expect from your planned tests, including when you will get the results and who will discuss them with you.
Focus on what you can control. You may not be able to control cancer, but your lifestyle choices can help you stay as healthy as possible. That includes eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise and quitting smoking. It may also help to learn more about your disease and your care options.
Make a move. Exercise can help relieve stress. If you're able, take a walk—or ask your healthcare team to help you find a workout that works for you.
Practice mindfulness. Live in the moment. Recognize your fears and practice letting them go.
Take time for self-care. Do things that help you relax—maybe it's reading, shopping for antiques or getting a massage. Or try calming exercises such as box breathing.
Talk it out. You don't have to cope on your own. Express your feelings and let others know your fears. Confide in a trusted friend, family member or counselor. Consider joining a support group to share with others who have been in your shoes.
Uncertainty is stressful. But there are strategies that can help you cope. And remember: You are not alone. No matter what your results show, your healthcare team will be there to help you. If you need more tips on coping, ask your provider to connect you to resources or check out our Stress and anxiety topic center.
- American Cancer Society. "Life After Cancer." https://www.cancer.org/cancer/survivorship/be-healthy-after-treatment/life-after-cancer.html.
- Cancer.Net. "What is Scanxiety?" https://www.cancer.net/blog/2021-10/what-scanxiety-how-people-with-cancer-and-survivors-can-cope.
- CancerCare. "Coping with the Fear of Recurrence." https://www.cancercare.org/publications/253-coping_with_the_fear_of_recurrence.
- National Cancer Institute. "From Scan To Scan: The Challenges of Living with Metastatic Cancer." https://www.cancer.gov/news-events/cancer-currents-blog/2021/living-with-metastatic-cancer.
- National Cancer Institute. "Helping Cancer Survivors Cope with Cancer-Related Anxiety and Distress." https://www.cancer.gov/news-events/cancer-currents-blog/2020/cancer-survivors-managing-anxiety-distress.
- National Cancer Institute. "Life After Cancer Treatment." https://www.cancer.gov/publications/patient-education/life-after-treatment.pdf.