A common problem among cancer survivors is scanxiety: the anxiety elicited by undergoing and waiting for the results. As a Healthy Survivor, I've explored how to minimize scanxiety. in Minimizing Scanxiety" I've shared with clinicians what I've learned.(Oncology Times July 25, 2015)
Every day you order tons of tests. But you're too busy to think about the results—let alone worry about them—until you see the reports.
Meanwhile, some of the patients whose names are on those reports are worrying mightily, stuck in a Sartre-esque hell of uncertainty with no exit from the waiting, day after day after day after day. Plagued by anxiety, they may try to forget about their pending test results.
But they can't forget... or sleep... or concentrate.Anxiety torques their thinking and emotions. It seeps into their relationships and activities, making mountains out of molehills and spoiling good times, day after day until the end of uncertainty....
A fact of survivorship is that patients have to wait for test results. But waiting doesn't have to be a living hell. To minimize patients' scanxiety:
* Discuss when and how patients will learn their results;
* Voice your expectation that the test results will help;
* Reassure patients that you are ready for anything and hoping for the best; and
* Encourage patients to contact you if they feel anxious, so you can discuss further resources and the role of short-term anxiolytics.
The rest of the article Minimizing Scanxiety shares my personal story of dealing with scanxiety.