Prevalence and severity of scanxiety in people with advanced cancers: a multicentre survey

Support Care Cancer. 2022 Jan;30(1):511-519. doi: 10.1007/s00520-021-06454-9. Epub 2021 Aug 1.


Purpose: Scan-associated anxiety ('scanxiety') is a problem for people with advanced cancer. We aimed to determine the prevalence, severity and associations of scanxiety in this population.

Methods: People with advanced cancer and a computed tomography scan within the last 4 months completed a multicentre survey including self-rated presence (yes/no) and severity (distress thermometer, 0-10) of scanxiety, state anxiety (STAI-6), clinical anxiety and depression (HADS), and fear of progression (FOP-Q-SF). Associations with scanxiety were evaluated.

Results: There were 222 participants: mean age 64 years (range 26 to 91), female (61%), most common cancer types (breast 37%, lung 19%, colorectal 16%) and > 1 year since cancer diagnosis (82%). Sixty-two percent had a scan within the last month, and 70% reported waiting > 2 days for the result. Over half (55%) of participants experienced scanxiety. On multivariable analysis, scanxiety was more prevalent in participants who were younger (mean age 62 years with v 66 years without scanxiety, p = 0.02) and more remote (v major city, OR 2.6, p = 0.04). Among participants with scanxiety, the mean severity score was 6 (range 1-10) with peak severity occurring when waiting for scan results. On multivariable analysis, scanxiety was 1.2 points higher in participants who had been diagnosed within the past year (v > 1 year, p = 0.04) and was higher in participants who had higher STAI-6 scores (β = 0.06, p = 0.004).

Conclusion: Scanxiety is common and can be severe. Strategies to reduce scanxiety are needed.

Keywords: Advanced cancer; Anxiety; Imaging; Psychosocial; Scanxiety.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anxiety Disorders
  • Anxiety* / epidemiology
  • Anxiety* / etiology
  • Depression
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms* / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Surveys and Questionnaires