Anxiety Home > Signs of Anxiety Following a Cancer Diagnosis

Cancer and Anxiety Symptoms

Some people may have already experienced intense anxiety in their life because of situations unrelated to their cancer. These anxiety-causing conditions may recur (come back) or become aggravated by the stress of a cancer diagnosis. Patients may experience extreme fear, be unable to absorb information their caregivers give them, or be unable to follow through with treatment.
In order to plan treatment for a patient's anxiety, a doctor may ask the following questions about the patient's symptoms:
  • Have you had any of the following symptoms since your cancer diagnosis or treatment? When do these symptoms occur (that is, how many days prior to treatment, at night, or at no specific time) and how long do they last?
  • Do you feel shaky, jittery, or nervous?
  • Have you felt tense, fearful, or apprehensive?
  • Have you had to avoid certain places or activities because of fear?
  • Have you felt your heart pounding or racing?
  • Have you had trouble catching your breath when nervous?
  • Have you had any unjustified sweating or trembling?
  • Have you felt a knot in your stomach?
  • Have you felt like you have a lump in your throat?
  • Do you find yourself pacing?
  • Are you afraid to close your eyes at night for fear that you may die in your sleep?
  • Do you worry about the next diagnostic test, or the results of it, weeks in advance?
  • Have you suddenly had a fear of losing control or going crazy?
  • Have you suddenly had a fear of dying?
  • Do you often worry about when your pain will return and how bad it will get?
  • Do you worry about whether you will be able to get your next dose of pain medication on time?
  • Do you spend more time in bed than you should because you are afraid that the pain will intensify if you stand up or move about?
  • Have you been confused or disoriented lately?
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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