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Scanxiety and Male Breast Cancer: Unique Challenges and Coping Strategies

Updated: Sep 18, 2023

Cancer is a traumatic experience for anyone. The fear of cancer recurrence or progression can trigger anxiety. For many cancer patients, the anxiety related to cancer diagnosis and treatment can continue long after treatment is complete. This anxiety is commonly known as scanxiety – the stress and worry associated with undergoing medical scans.

Scanxiety can be particularly challenging for men with breast cancer, as they face unique challenges and stereotypes that can make the experience even more isolating. Breast cancer is a rare disease in men, and its unique challenges can significantly impact their mental and physical health.

Breast cancer in men can be difficult to find information and resources due to the lack of awareness and research, increasing patients’ anxiety and uncertainty. Delayed diagnosis is also a common issue; societal stereotypes and stigmas can make the experience more isolating.

In this blog, we will discuss the concept of scanxiety, the unique challenges of male breast cancer patients, and coping strategies for dealing with scanxiety.

What Is Scanxiety?

Scanxiety is a form of anticipatory anxiety experienced by cancer patients before, during, or after medical scans or appointments. Several factors can trigger this anxiety, such as fear of cancer recurrence, fear of receiving bad news, uncertainty about the future, and lack of control over the situation.

Scanxiety is an expected response to the trauma of cancer diagnosis and treatment. Research has demonstrated that the prevalence of scanxiety can be as high as 83%, though this figure may vary depending on factors such as cancer type, disease stage, and scan frequency.

Scanxiety can negatively affect a patient's mental health, quality of life, and overall well-being. Interestingly, scanxiety can have both positive and negative effects on follow-up care. For some patients, the anxiety propels them to be more proactive in seeking further medical attention, while for others, it acts as a barrier to continued care.

9 Coping Strategies for Scanxiety in Male Breast Cancer Patients

Scanxiety can be challenging to cope with, but there are several strategies that male breast cancer patients can use to manage their anxiety and improve their quality of life. Here are nine coping strategies that may be helpful:

1. Empower Yourself

Knowledge is power; the more you know about your diagnosis, treatment options, and prognosis, the better you will cope with the disease. Researching scans and coping mechanisms online is a quick and effective place to start.

If you're feeling anxious or overwhelmed, reach out to your healthcare team and ask questions. They can provide reassurance, help you understand what to expect during appointments and scans, and refer you to additional support services if needed.

You can also join online support groups, forums, or communities specifically for men with breast cancer.

2. Calm Your Mind, Ease Your Scanxiety

Relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, guided imagery, mindfulness meditation, and yoga, can be powerful tools to help you cope with scanxiety. These techniques can help you release physical tension, clear your mind, and promote relaxation.

Find stress-relief techniques that resonate with you and practice them regularly, even if it's just for a few minutes each day. By incorporating relaxation techniques into your daily routine, you can help reduce your scanxiety and feel more in control of your health and well-being.

3. Find Support During Tough Times

Surround yourself with supportive friends and family who can provide emotional support during this challenging time. Having people you trust to open up to and receive advice can go a long way.

It's also helpful to connect with others who have gone through similar experiences, such as joining a support group for male breast cancer patients.

4. Unlock Emotional Healing Through Journaling

Journaling can be a therapeutic way to process your thoughts and emotions related to your diagnosis and treatment. Writing down your fears and concerns can help you gain clarity and perspective on your situation.

5. Find Joy Amidst Cancer

It's natural to feel overwhelmed and anxious when facing cancer, but it's important to try to stay positive and focus on the things that bring you joy and happiness. This can include spending time with loved ones, engaging in hobbies or activities you enjoy, or setting achievable goals.

6. Escape Anxiety With Distractions

Sometimes, distracting yourself from your worries can be an effective way to manage anxiety. Find activities that you enjoy and can immerse yourself in, such as reading a book, listening to music, or watching a movie.

7. Fuel Your Body With Nutrients and Energy

Maintaining a balanced diet and good nutrition is essential to ensure your body receives the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals to function optimally and boost immunity. Consuming a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats can provide the energy and strength required to maintain good health and keep stress at bay.

8. Embrace Daily Physical Activity for a Healthier, Happier You

Incorporating physical activity into your daily routine can significantly improve your physical and mental health. Exercises like walking, swimming, or practicing yoga can help boost your mood, reduce stress, and increase your overall fitness levels.

Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week to reap the benefits.

9. Recharge With Sleep

Prioritizing sleep is crucial for your body to recover from daily stressors and maintain emotional balance. Aim for 7–9 hours of quality sleep each night and establish a relaxing bedtime routine. Creating a sleep/wake schedule will help your body learn when to rest.

How Stress Management Techniques Can Empower You

Scanxiety is a common experience for cancer patients, and male breast cancer patients face unique challenges related to their diagnosis. Coping strategies such as relaxation techniques, a strong support network, regular exercise, and proper rest can help reduce stress levels and improve overall well-being.

Finding the best methods for you and reaching out for professional support when needed is essential. Regularly practicing these strategies can build resilience and enhance your ability to cope with life's inevitable stressors.

Stay strong, keep fighting, and never give up hope!

Editor; Zach Norton

April 2023


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