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Waiting For Test Results: 6 Practical Tips to Ease Scanxiety

  • Whether you’re living with cancer or looking at a possible diagnosis, scans and other tests are crucial. And the wait for results is often stressful. But while anxiety about test results—sometimes called scanxiety—is common, there are ways to cope.  

    Start by talking to your healthcare team. Ask when and how you’ll get the results. Consider what might make the experience easier for you and make that a part of your plan. 

    For example, patient portals make results easier to access, but results may be hard to interpret. You might choose to check your test results with a loved one nearby for support. It may also help to ask your providers when you can discuss your results and ask questions. 

    It’s also important to know what to do if your results are late. Ask when it’s time to follow up if you haven’t received results.  

    Keep in mind that a delay may not be a sign of bad news. The truth is that there are many possible explanations. Certain tissues take longer to process, a test might need to be repeated with a larger sample, or a second opinion may be called for to ensure accurate results. 

    6 ways to manage test stress 

    Having a plan for how you’ll handle your results can help to reduce stress, but if you’re dealing with anxiety while you wait, these tips may help: 

    1. Acknowledge your emotions.

    It may be tempting to ignore anxiety, but naming and accepting your emotions can help you cope. Consider writing down your thoughts or sharing your feelings with a supportive loved one.  

    2. Practice self-care.

    Getting regular exercise, choosing healthy foods and getting plenty of sleep can help you feel better—and give you a sense of control over your health. If possible, spend some time outdoors. Sunlight and fresh air can help boost your mood. 

    3. Reach out.

    Let friends and family know what you need. Help with daily tasks may help to relieve the pressure. And setting aside time for fun with a friend may be a welcome distraction. 

    4. Practice mindfulness.

    Meditation and deep breathing can help ease tension and help you focus your attention on the present. 

    5. Relax your body to ease your mind.

    Progressive muscle relaxation can be a helpful mind-body relaxation strategy. Start by tightening and then relaxing your toes, then continue the exercise as you progress slowly toward your head. As you relax, try to imagine yourself in a calm, happy setting. 

    6. Seek distractions.

    Keeping busy can help calm your worries. You might take a long walk with a friend or a pet, binge-watch a favorite show, or dive into a new book. 

    Ask for support

    If you’re living with stress or anxiety, let your healthcare team know. They can connect you to the resources and support you need.  

    At Fox Chase Cancer Center, we’re here to support you at every stage of your cancer journey—and beyond. Our social workers, psychiatrists, psychologists and nurse practitioners are trained and experienced to help you and your loved one's cope with cancer and its challenges.  

    To get started, call 888-369-2427 or request an appointment online