Addressing Scanxiety and Coping with Fear of Breast Cancer Recurrence

Scanxiety, a term often used to describe the anxiety associated with medical scans, extends beyond mere fear. It encompasses a spectrum of emotions that patients encounter throughout treatment and beyond, as well as the entire scanning process.

As part of its Speaking Out video series, CURE® spoke with Juanita Miller, an ANGEL Advocate from the Tigerlily Foundation, about addressing and coping with the fear or recurrence in breast cancer.

According to Miller, scanxiety begins with the apprehension of scheduling the scan, seeking authorization, preparing for it, enduring the often unpleasant prep, and waiting for results. Further, the introduction of Electronic Health Records (EHRs) has added another layer of stress, as patients can now access their results before consulting with their doctors. Miller’s advice: Patients should wait to discuss results with their health care providers, who can provide context and guidance.

The fear of cancer recurrence is a legitimate concern for many survivors. To cope with this fear, patients can seek education and engage in open dialogues with their doctors. Knowledge empowers patients to understand the symptoms of recurrence, treatment options, and potential side effects. Providers can play a significant role in empowering patients by educating them about the possibility of recurrence and the resources available.

“I feel like if patients are more educated about recurrence, they will be empowered to understand it and be ready for it to understand what the symptoms look like, what to look for,” Miller said. “And if they had a safe space to have an open dialogue with their doctors to talk about these drugs and these treatment options, if (their breast cancer) comes back, then it makes them feel more empowered to be ready for it.”

In addition, Miller highlighted resources that the TigerLily Foundation has to offer patients to assist them with the fear of recurrence.

For more news on cancer updates, research and education, don’t forget to subscribe to CURE®’s newsletters here.

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