Scans are a big part of having cancer and they can be really overwhelming. Your mind may begin to race with questions like, What will the scan say? Will it show if my treatment is working? Am I in remission? Feelings of anxiety and uneasiness can often happen before getting a scan. These types of emotions surrounding having scans are referred to as “scanxiety.” And, while experiencing these feelings before a procedure or test is completely normal, there are several ways to try to manage your scanxiety so it doesn’t affect the quality of your care.

7 Tips for Reducing Scanxiety Before Your Appointments

Here are some ways you can take control and prepare yourself for a scan:

  1. Pick the first appointment time of the day. If possible, schedule tests at an early hour to potentially cut down on some of the waiting time
  2. Bring someone along. Invite a loved one to join you at your appointment for support
  3. Surround yourself with support. This means knowing the people who help put you at ease and the people who may do the opposite. Spending time talking with the people who are more calming can help relax you prior to an appointment
  4. Distract yourself, if you can. This may include bringing a book, magazine, crossword puzzle, or a brain-teaser game like sudoku. You could also download a TV show, movie, or music onto your phone or tablet
  5. Minimize discomfort. If you are having a biopsy, see if your doctor can use numbing medicine, like topical anesthesia that can be applied to the skin before the biopsy
  6. Quiet your mind. Try relaxation techniques such as meditation, deep breathing, or light yoga
  7. Plan ahead. Following the scan, schedule an appointment to talk with your doctor about the test results so you’re not worried about the unknown

Although scans may continue to be a stressful part of your cancer treatment, these tips can help you feel more at ease, and possibly give you a new outlook on how to manage scanxiety.

In addition to scanxiety, living with lung cancer can cause different types of stress and anxiety that can be difficult to manage. Here are a few techniques that may work for you.