Allow Us to Introduce You to "Scanxiety"

Posted: July 6, 2021


Mental Health






It may not be an “official” medical diagnosis, but studies show over 80% of cancer patients experience “Scanxiety.” If you’re experiencing stress and anxiety about medical scans that interfere with your sleep, appetite, and basic human function in general, you’re not alone.

Before diving in too deeply: Please remember that we are not medical professionals. The buddhi team cannot diagnose you with scanxiety or “regular” anxiety, nor can we officially recommend treatment options. We’d just like to share our experience with you in the hopes that it helps you navigate the not-so-wonderful-world of cancer and anxiety. 

In our experience, it’s normal to experience some “side effects” before a medical exam, MRI, or CT scan in remission. 

Your scanxiety symptoms have run the gamut, to include:

  • Constant worrying

  • Difficulty breathing

  • Lack of sleep 

  • Trouble focusing

  • Sweating 

  • Appetite changes

  • Nausea 

  • Feeling as if your throat is closing up 

  • Dry mouth

  • Excessive saliva 

  • Feeling light headed 

  • A growing pit of dread in your stomach

As if that’s not enough, according to Let’s Win, “Studies suggest that having a follow-up scan after cancer treatment can trigger symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), including intrusive thoughts, irritability, and insomnia.” And these feelings aren’t exclusive to patients! Your caregivers, friends, and family members may also feel the pressure building before scans that could bring bad news. 

What triggers these feelings, and why don’t we hear more about them?

According to Pamela Katz Ressler, RN, MS, HNB-BC,  founder of Stress Resources, “As our medical system has become more technologically adept at measuring indicators of disease, so too has our anxiety. Scanxiety is an unintended consequence of medical testing, yet it is one that is rarely discussed by medical professionals with patients.”

Even if Vegas is your favorite city in the world, follow-up scans are a cancer patient’s least favorite kind of gamble. We couldn’t have said it better than Bruce Feiler in a TIME article, “All patients have complicated relationships with their scans not unlike the hate-love relationships we have with other technologies in our lives. We first learn we have cancer from scans, then learn from them if that cancer has shrunk or disappeared, then learn if it has come back. Scans are like revolving doors, emotional roulette wheels that spin us around for a few days and spit us out the other side. Land on red, we're in for another trip to Cancerland; land on black, we have a few more months of freedom.”

Everyone has their own ways of identifying and coping with their scanxiety, but here are some of the things we’ve found to be helpful:


Come on… you knew this one was coming! We love Emily Fletcher’s Ziva Technique of really tuning into your five senses. Whether you choose to learn it through ZivaONLINE or her bestselling book, Stress Less, Accomplish More, we invite you to kick off the 3 M’s: mindfulness, meditation, and manifesting. When you can’t get out of a funk of worrying about the future, that’s EXACTLY where manifesting comes into play! Visualize your future healthy self and let the good vibes come rolling in. 

Looking for other great options to learn about mindfulness, meditation, and manifesting from your phone? We recommend Calm and Headspace.

BONUS: Meditation is also a great technique to play off of when you’re actually getting your scans, as well. Excuse us, we’ll just be here, manifesting our own “find your beach” moment...

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