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Guide to Coping with Scanxiety


Free to Breathe is a featured advocacy partner of Lung Cancer Profiles.

Undergoing frequent tests and scans is a reality for people with lung cancer. From your initial diagnosis to monitoring how your disease is responding to treatment, your healthcare team relies on these tests to help determine your care plan and see if changes are needed.

If you experience fear, uncertainty and anxiety over having these tests performed and waiting for the results—often called “scanxiety”—you are not alone. It’s perfectly normal and, in fact, quite common to have these feelings.

Everyone handles scanxiety differently. The most important thing to keep in mind is to try not to let it overwhelm you. Find something that will help keep your anxiety in check before a scan or while you wait for your results. Here are some suggestions:

Distract yourself and focus on positive things: Channel your energy into activities that you enjoy or that make you happy like gardening, reading, seeing a movie, listening to uplifting music or expressing your creative side through writing or art projects.

Find inner peace: Turn to calming activities like meditation, yoga or other forms of exercise that your doctor says are appropriate.

Be prepared: Knowing how and when your doctor delivers test results can give you one less thing to worry about. Find out if he or she will call or wants you to come in on a particular day.

Don't go at it alone: Rely on the support of people around you. Talk about what you are feeling with friends, family, fellow patient or a support group. Bring a supportive individual with you to your appointments, and help them understand the feelings you have. Your treatment center may also offer support to help you through these difficult periods. Many lung cancer patient advocacy groups also have resources for you.