What is scanxiety? Scanxiety is an anxious feeling before an MRI scan that is very common among cancer patients. For some it’s the unpredictability of the results and for others it’s plainly the claustrophobic aspect.
“Claustrophobia is an anxiety disorder in which the sufferer has an irrational feat of having no escape or being closed in.“ When a person experiences this they may also suffer a panic attack which results in accelerated heart rate, sweating, and nausea. Because so many patients, and especially cancer patients suffer from scanxiety, an “open MRI” machine was created with a top and bottom that do not connect. While patients are in an open MRI they have space on either side of them, which often alleviates their anxiety.
More so than claustrophobia though, the reason cancer patients experience scanxiety is mostly because of the unpredictability of the results. Imagine not knowing whether your tumor has shrunk after surgery only to get the results from an MRI showing you that the tumor has in fact grown. It can be very stressful for cancer patients who are already dealing with so much already.
Here are ten tips for coping with scanxiety.
1. Listen to loud music and let it take over your thoughts.
2. Prepare ahead of time for the worst-case scenario.