Scan-associated distress in lung cancer: Quantifying the impact of “scanxiety”

Joshua M. Bauml, Andrea Troxel, C. Neill Epperson, Roger B. Cohen, Kathryn Schmitz, Carrie Stricker, Lawrence N. Shulman, Angela Bradbury, Jun J. Mao, Corey J. Langer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Scopus citations


Objectives Diagnostic imaging may be a major source of cancer-related distress, a condition known as “scanxiety”. Scant scholarly work has been performed to evaluate scan-associated distress in cancer. We sought to characterize risk factors for scan-associated distress among patients with Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC), and to evaluate the impact of scan-associated distress on quality of life. Materials and methods We conducted a cross-sectional survey study of patients with recurrent/metastatic NSCLC treated at an academic medical center. Clinical and demographic variables were obtained through chart abstraction and patient self-report. We used a modified version of the Impact of Event Scale 6 (IES-6) to specifically assess distress associated with scans, and quality of life was measured using the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy − Lung (FACT-L). Results Among 103 participants (survey response rate 76.3%), median age was 67, 61.2% were women, and 82.5% were white. At the study visit, 72.8% of subjects discussed a recent scan, and 83% reported some scan-associated distress. Scan-associated distress was not associated with whether the patient had a recent scan, progressive disease or time from diagnosis. Scan-associated distress was associated with impaired quality of life (p = 0.004); each unit increase in IES-6 corresponded to an approximately one-unit decrease in FACT-L score. Conclusion Scan-associated distress is a common problem among patients with NSCLC, and is associated with impaired quality of life. Scan-associated distress severity was not associated with time since diagnosis or whether a recent scan was discussed at the study visit, which implies scan-associated distress may be a persistent problem.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)110-113
Number of pages4
JournalLung Cancer
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oncology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cancer Research


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