What is scanxiety, and what its causes?

 Scans, check-ups, check-up days, sometimes blood tests too, and all this generates a lot of anxiety for most patients. Today, we are looking at the problem of the overwhelming fear of check-up days. So, what is scanxiety?

Do you feel overwhelming fear as your medical exams or check-up days approach? You probably suffer from “scanxiety”. 

Scanxiety is a term used to describe the anxious feelings that arise in the time leading up to a cancer imaging scan, during the scan, and while waiting for results.

My name is Delphine Remy and I am the author of the book Cancer? I manage! and the founder of the podcast “Naître princesse, devenir guerrière”. I am in remission from hormone-dependent breast cancer. In this article, I will tell you about the phenomenon of “scanxiety”, an illness that affects many cancer patients.

What is scanxiety, and what its causes?

Scanxiety: Definition

The term comes from the compression of two words scan and anxiety. Condensed, they form the word scanxiety, an Anglo-Saxon term that is much shorter, easier and more figurative to describe the overwhelming fear of control days.

very real fear of control days

It takes different forms and different intensities because we are all unique. It is sometimes powerful, overpowering even, sometimes invasive or even sneaky. It can wake you up at night, tighten your entire rib cage and prevent you from breathing at times. It can even make you vomit, make you irritable, aggressive, depressed, uncontrollable, agitated and so on.

Scanxiety, a type of post-traumatic stress disorder

What you feel before each check-up, during the exam itself or while you are waiting for the results is post-traumatic stress disorder. 

  1. No, you're not stupid,
  2. No, you are not unable to manage your stress or your emotions,
  3. No, you are not hysterical or weak,
  4. No, you don't always imagine the worst,
  5. No, no, no, what you are experiencing is normal and legitimate.

Patient in remission or metastatic patient, different issues

I would like to illustrate an important point by making a distinction between a patient in remission and a metastatic patient:

  1. For the patient in remission, the scan result will indicate whether he is still in remission or whether the cancer has returned, the underlying fear is the return of the cancer, metastases and all that implies.
  2. For the metastatic patient, the scan result will indicate whether the metastases are stable or have progressed, so the underlying fear is progression of the disease to other organs and the possibility that there are no more treatments available.

In both cases, the results of the scan can potentially announce death. The fear is the same when it is at its peak, but the stakes are different, the impact is different.

How to reduce the fear of control days?

So it's a great leg for you to read all this, but what is the solution, how to alleviate this fear? I will try as best I can to explain everything that is happening, to name many phenomena and to provide you with solutions.

  • Sometimes, and even often, putting words to the pain allows us to reduce its intensity or regain some control over what is uncontrollable.
  • Sometimes, knowing that millions of people are going through the same thing can make you feel less alone.
  • Sometimes connecting with our brothers and sisters in combat helps to reduce the intensity of our pain.

Does this topic speak to you? Give your comment below.


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