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Worried, Scared or Anxious

Photo of a nurse talking to a patient

Typical worries and fears (feeling anxious):
  • can impact sleeping and eating 
  • can decrease ability to concentrate 
  • may create temporary withdrawal from social activities 
  • disrupts your usual patterns or routines  
  • can increase your irritability or impatience  
  • are usually connected to a specific issue 
  • have symptoms that increase and decrease as issue arises 
  • doesn't stop your ability to look forward to the future 
  • doesn't stop your ability to make necessary decisions

The important thing to remember is that typical worries and fears are brief and time-limited.

If your feelings interfere with your quality of life like ruining your sleep, preventing you from absorbing information or making treatment decisions, worsen your pain, or generally make life miserable you may have problems with anxiety or an anxiety disorder.

You're more likely to experience higher levels of anxiety if you:

  • had an anxiety disorder in the past
  • have a history of physical or emotional trauma
  • have severe pain
  • have a type of cancer or receive a type of treatment that can cause symptoms of anxiety
  • have little support
Feelings can vary in intensity:
Feelings of anxiety can increase or decrease at different times. You may become more anxious if the cancer spreads or treatment becomes more intense. The level of anxiety experienced by one person can also be different from the anxiety experienced by another person. It is important to assess how you and others are feeling at different times during your cancer experience.

Caused by cancer and/or treatments:
There are certain cancers that may create physical problems that cause anxiety. Many cancer medications and treatments can aggravate feelings of anxiety. Many patients experience anxiety connected to fear of uncontrolled pain, being left alone or having to depend on others. Many of these factors can be managed with support.

Even after treatment is completed, you may find yourself facing higher levels of anxiety. For example, you may experience anxiety when you return to work and are asked about your cancer experience, or when dealing with insurance-related problems.

Remember that fears of certain things like closed spaces or needles can interfere with your treatment plan. Make sure your health care team knows of any pre-existing issues connected to anxiety or phobias.
Relevant Handouts:

Anxiety  2018

Anxiety (Traditional Chinese) 2016

Education & Support:
Cancer Centre Support:

SOURCE: Worried, Scared or Anxious ( )
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