Anxiety Disorder (PDQ�)
This patient summary on
Persons with cancer will find that their feelings of anxiety increase or decrease at different times. A patient may become more anxious as cancer spreads or treatment becomes more intense. The level of anxiety experienced by one person with cancer may differ from the anxiety experienced by another person. Most patients are able to reduce their anxiety by learning more about their cancer and the treatment they can expect to receive. For some patients, particularly those who have experienced episodes of intense anxiety before their cancer diagnosis, feelings of anxiety may become overwhelming and interfere with cancer treatment. Most patients who have not had an anxiety condition before their cancer diagnosis will not develop an anxiety
Patients are more likely to develop anxiety during cancer treatment if they have any of the following conditions:
A history of anxiety disorders.
Anxiety at the time of diagnosis.
Few family members or friends to care for them.
Cancer that is not responding to treatment.
A history of physical or emotional
Contrary to what one might expect, patients with
Description and Cause
Some persons may have already experienced intense
Have you had any of the following symptoms since your cancer diagnosis or treatment? When do these symptoms occur (i.e., 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
Have you felt like you have a lump in your
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
doseof pain medicationon 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
Anxiety disorder includes
Adjustment disorder includes behaviors or moods more extreme than expected in a reaction to a cancer diagnosis. Symptoms include severe nervousness, worry, jitteriness, and the inability to go to work, attend school, or be with other people. Adjustment disorder is more likely to occur in cancer patients during critical times of the disease. These include being tested for the disease, learning the diagnosis, and experiencing a
Patients with panic disorder experience intense anxiety. Patients may suffer shortness of breath, dizziness, rapid heart beat, trembling, profuse sweating,
Phobias are ongoing fears about or
A person with obsessive-compulsive disorder has persistent thoughts, ideas, or images (obsessions) that are accompanied by repetitive behaviors (
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
The diagnosis of cancer may cause a person who has previously experienced a life-threatening event to relive the trauma associated with that event. Patients with cancer who have post-traumatic stress disorder may experience extreme anxiety before
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Patients with generalized anxiety disorder may experience extreme and constant anxiety or unrealistic worry. For example, patients with supportive family and friends may fear that no one will care for them. Patients may worry that they cannot pay for their treatment, although they have adequate financial resources and insurance. Generalized anxiety disorder may happen after a patient has been very
Anxiety Disorder Caused by Other General Medical Conditions
Patients with cancer may experience anxiety that is caused by other medical conditions. Patients who are experiencing severe pain feel anxious, and anxiety can increase pain. The sudden appearance of extreme anxiety may be a symptom of
Anxiety is a direct or indirect
See the following
Adjustment to Cancer: Anxiety and Distress
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
It may be difficult to distinguish between normal fears associated with
Treatment for anxiety begins by giving the patient adequate information and support. Developing
Studies show that
See the following
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Sexuality and Reproductive Issues
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For more information, U.S. residents may call the National Cancer Institute's (NCI's) Cancer Information Service toll-free at 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237) Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., Eastern Time. A trained Cancer Information Specialist is available to answer your questions.
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Changes to This Summary (04/28/2010)
Editorial changes were made to this summary.
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PDQ is a comprehensive cancer database available on NCI's Web site.
PDQ is the National Cancer Institute's (NCI's) comprehensive cancer information database. Most of the information contained in PDQ is available online at NCI's Web site. PDQ is provided as a service of the NCI. The NCI is part of the National Institutes of Health, the federal government's focal point for biomedical research.
PDQ contains cancer information summaries.
The PDQ database contains summaries of the latest published information on cancer prevention, detection, genetics, treatment, supportive care, and complementary and alternative medicine. Most summaries are available in two versions. The health professional versions provide detailed information written in technical language. The patient versions are written in easy-to-understand, nontechnical language. Both versions provide current and accurate cancer information.
The PDQ cancer information summaries are developed by cancer experts and reviewed regularly.
Editorial Boards made up of experts in oncology and related specialties are responsible for writing and maintaining the cancer information summaries. The summaries are reviewed regularly and changes are made as new information becomes available. The date on each summary ("Date Last Modified") indicates the time of the most recent change.
PDQ also contains information on clinical trials.
A clinical trial is a study to answer a scientific question, such as whether one method of treating symptoms is better than another. Trials are based on past studies and what has been learned in the laboratory. Each trial answers certain scientific questions in order to find new and better ways to help cancer patients. Some patients have symptoms caused by cancer treatment or by the cancer itself. During supportive care clinical trials, information is collected about how well new ways to treat symptoms of cancer work. The trials also study side effects of treatment and problems that come up during or after treatment. If a clinical trial shows that a new treatment is better than one currently being used, the new treatment may become "standard." Patients who have symptoms related to cancer treatment may want to think about taking part in a clinical trial.
Listings of clinical trials are included in PDQ and are available online at NCI's Web site. Descriptions of the trials are available in health professional and patient versions. Many cancer doctors who take part in clinical trials are also listed in PDQ. For more information, call the Cancer Information Service 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237).