Survey Finds ‘Scanxiety’ Is Common Challenge for Lung Cancer Patients
—Follow-up scan frequency, wait time for results can contribute to anxiety—
PHILADELPHIA – July 2, 2018 – Getting regular scans and imaging tests is a normal – and often frequent – occurrence for people living with lung cancer. However, the normalcy does not necessarily mitigate the anxiety surrounding the experience, according to Lung Cancer In America 2018, a national survey by Health Union, LLC of people impacted by the condition, including patients and caregivers.
Living with lung cancer is accompanied by a considerable level of anxiety, with 86 percent of respondents reporting at least a little bit of anxiety on any given day. However, what is often referred to as “scanxiety” – the anxiety, fear and worry associated with scans, specifically before the results are revealed – can exacerbate those feelings. Of those who experience scanxiety, three-quarters reported either “more” or “a lot more” anxiety around the time of scans than at other times.
The frequency of follow-up scans can also cause the scanxiety opportunities to pile up, with almost three-quarters of respondents getting scans either every three to four months or more frequently. Making matters worse, 57 percent said they need to wait two or more days to receive the results of their scans.
According to the American Cancer Society, lung cancer is the second most common cancer for both men and women in the U.S., as well as the nation’s leading cause of death from cancer. Grim statistics surrounding lung cancer have the potential to increase worry and scanxiety.
Additionally, many patients are diagnosed at later stages due to symptoms often being mistaken for other conditions. For example, according to Lung Cancer In America 2018 survey respondents, 58 percent of patients with non-small cell lung cancer were diagnosed at stage III or IV.
“Even though I was diagnosed with lung cancer close to five years ago, I still experience scanxiety prior to all of my scheduled scans,” said LungCancer.net patient advocate Ivy Elkins. “As someone living with stage IV lung cancer, each scan means a chance to discover that my cancer might have started growing again, and this uncertainty causes me a lot of anxiety.”
The survey results showed that three-quarters of patients utilize tactics or resources to cope with their scanxiety. The top coping method cited by respondents was prayer, followed in order by keeping busy, talking with others, staying positive and taking medications.
“One of the many benefits of a community like LungCancer.net is the opportunity to learn about and discuss aspects of living with lung cancer, such as scanxiety, that aren’t always common knowledge,” said Tim Armand, Health Union president and co-founder. “Not only are the people who are participating in our community validated in their experiences and connected with others with similar patient journeys; they also receive valuable information, like different approaches to coping.”
On top of worrying about scans, survey responses reflected the need to balance multiple facets of living with lung cancer. Nine in 10 patients said they have used medications to prevent or minimize side effects related to lung cancer treatment. Nearly three in 10 have been diagnosed with another type of cancer, and many are dealing with other prevalent health conditions, such as COPD (36 percent) and hypertension (30 percent).
Lung Cancer In America 2018 surveyed 811 U.S. respondents – including 673 patients and 138 caregivers – from Jan. 3 to April 18, 2018. A summary infographic of the results is available on LungCancer.net; additional survey results may be available upon request.
About Health Union, LLC
Health Union integrates the power of human connection and technology, uniting people in the shared experiences of life with chronic health conditions. The company creates condition-specific online ecosystems – publishing original, daily content and continuously cultivating social conversation – to support, educate and connect millions of people with challenging, chronic health concerns. Today, the Health Union family of brands includes 18 online health communities, including LungCancer.net, MultipleSclerosis.net, Blood-Cancer.com and Type2Diabetes.com.