7 Tips for Coping with Scan Anxiety

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If you are a cancer survivor and have felt anxious about an upcoming scan such as X-ray, CT scan, or MRI during or after your treatment, you are not alone. Some patients call it PSS, Pre-Scan Syndrome and others call it “Scanxiety.”

MRIScans can often bring feelings of uneasiness and nervousness, as patients cope with physical constraints during the scan and emotional uncertainty for their results. But scans are an important part of keeping you healthy during survivorship. Below are 7 helpful tips to help you stay calm and confident leading up to, during and after your scans.

“Anxiety before having a scan is completely normal. It is important to prepare yourself so you can proactively control your emotions and fears so they do not overwhelm you,” said Balijepalli Netaji, MD, hematologist/oncologist at Sarah Cannon at St. David’s North Austin Medical Center in Austin, Texas. “One way to reduce your stress and anxiety before a scan is to make sure you surround yourself with people who have been with you on your journey. You can also reach out to your oncologist or nurse for reassurance about the process.”

Tips for coping with scan anxiety:

  1. Distract yourself and stay busy
    Staying busy leading up to your scan will keep your mind occupied and keep you from focusing on the upcoming scan or scan results. Take a short trip, make a new recipe, watch your favorite TV show, read a book, listen to music, try a new hobby or call a friend to take your mind off your nerves.
  2. Share your story
    Many survivors want to share their stories to encourage those facing a new diagnosis and give back to the community of support that helped them through their cancer journey. It can help take your mind off of your own anxiety by talking to other people who are in a similar situation.
  3. Meditate
    Relaxing is not only good for your overall health, but it can also help with anxiety. Accepting that you cannot control your results can help reduce your scan anxiety. Whether your way of meditation is praying, yoga, sitting quietly or listening to calming music, find what helps you relax and do it.
  4. Exercise
    Maintaining a healthy lifestyle through stressful times is good for your body and mind. Exercising helps combat fatigue both physically and emotionally, by releasing endorphins to make you feel more at ease.
  5. Treat yourself
    Sometimes the best way to take your mind off of your worries is to treat yourself. Eat your favorite food, watch your favorite movie, get a manicure and pedicure, go shopping, take a nap, or do another activity that you enjoy. Putting your needs, and even wants, first every so often can help take your mind off of anxiety.
  6. Know when and how you will receive your results
    Knowing this information will make you feel more in control of your journey. Plan your “results day” in advance so you can make the waiting period less stressful. It is better to feel anxious for 10 minutes than for 10 days.
  7. Acknowledge your anxiety
    Feeling anxious is normal. Talk to your family, friends and healthcare provider about your nerves. They are a system of support for you in your journey.

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4 Responses to “7 Tips for Coping with Scan Anxiety”

  1. Brooke McAvoy

    I like your tip about sharing your story, I think this would be helpful to my daughter. She is not super inclined to talk about her experience, and I think that this makes her have less of an appreciation for it. Meditation is also a good idea, maybe we can start doing this together regularly. Thank you for all of the applicable information!

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  3. Ivy Baker

    This is some really good information about CT scans. It does seem like a good idea to have your doctor talk to with you about your scan fears. That might be a thing that will help calm you down.

    Reply
  4. LNWeaver

    I didn’t know exercise released endorphins. Endorphins are the body’s reward system and they make you feel good. I can see how that would help with anxiety.

    Reply

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