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JAMA ONCOLOGY PATIENT PAGE

Cancer-Related Anxiety
When diagnosed with cancer, patients may experience emotions that induce anxiety,
including sadness, fear, anger, dread, and confusion.

Anxiety After Cancer Diagnosis


Experiencing anxiety after diagnosis is not unusual and often be- Cancer-Related Anxiety
gins as a temporary worry or fear after treatment or a visit to the doc-
tor. In severe cases, a persons capacity to lead a normal life may be
compromised and the ability to function severely impacted. In ad-
dition, many patients experience scanxiety, which can occur days
or weeks before and after follow-up scans (x-ray, CT scan, or MRI).

Psychological Symptoms of Anxiety


(Emotional and Mental Distress)
Anxiety is associated with restlessness, difficulty concentrating, and
a feeling of being wound up or on edge. It also often involves irrita-
bility, an inability to relax, and difficulty controlling the worry.

Physical Symptoms of Anxiety


Physically, anxiety is associated with sleep problems (ie, difficulty
falling asleep or staying asleep, restless sleep, or unsatisfying sleep),
fatigue, headaches, muscle tension, and loss of appetite.

Therapeutic Treatment for Coping With Anxiety


Medication: Taking medication may be an appropriate treatment
when anxiety is preventing an individual from completing every-
day tasks. While medication does not cure anxiety disorders, it can
provide some relief from symptoms. Medications are most effec-
tive in conjunction with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which Keeping an open dialogue with your physician or other clini-
helps an individual learn coping mechanisms when anxiety occurs. cian is important when coping with anxiety. Feelings of anxiety dur-
CBT: Patients undergoing CBT learn different ways of thinking by ing doctor visits, scans, and everyday life are normal, and actively
challenging cycles of behavioral reactions to anxiety-inducing situ- pursuing coping techniques can help improve the anxiety experi-
ations. By helping individuals identify and manage emotions, ef- enced during cancer treatment.
fects of CBT have been shown to be maintained after treatment.
Support Groups: Support groups provide a safe place to share FOR MORE INFORMATION
feelings with other individuals going through similar hardships. Anxiety Disorders
Creating open dialogues with others can be helpful when process- https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/anxiety-disorders/index
ing cancer-related anxiety. .shtml
Adjustment to Cancer: Anxiety and Distress (PDQ)Patient Version
https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/coping/feelings/anxiety
Nontherapeutic Tools
-distress-pdq
Physical activity, a balanced diet, maintaining a healthy support net-
Anxiety
work, and mindful exercises can all be helpful when handling anxi-
http://www.cancer.net/coping-with-cancer/managing-emotions/anxiety
ety. Practicing these activities can elevate mood and greatly reduce
stress.

Authors: Gleneara E. Bates, MS, MSW; Jadmin L. Mostel, BS; The JAMA Oncology Patient Page is a public service of JAMA Oncology. The
Mary Hesdorffer, MS, NP information and recommendations appearing on this page are appropriate in most
Published Online: March 30, 2017. doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2017.0254 instances, but they are not a substitute for medical diagnosis. For specific information
concerning your personal medical condition, JAMA Oncology suggests that you
Conflict of Interest Disclosures: None reported. consult your physician. This page may be photocopied noncommercially by physicians
Section Editor: Howard (Jack) West, MD. and other health care professionals to share with patients. To purchase bulk reprints,
call (312) 464-0776.

jamaoncology.com (Reprinted) JAMA Oncology Published online March 30, 2017 E1

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