Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.



Degree Program

Nursing, PhD

Committee Chair

Hall, Lynne A.

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

DeLetter, Mary

Committee Member

DeLetter, Mary

Committee Member

Hermann, Carla

Committee Member

Martin, Robert

Committee Member

Staten, Ruth R.

Author's Keywords

scanxiety; phenomenology; fear of cancer recurrence; surveillance; CT scan


Surveillance scans can signify a crisis point in a cancer patient’s life, provoking fear and anxiety that negatively impact quality of life. Scan-related anxiety or scanxiety has been briefly discussed in the literature among lung cancer and lymphoma populations, but relatively few investigations have studied the psychological impact of routine surveillance scans during cancer survivorship. The purpose of this study was to illuminate the lived experience of scanxiety in survivors of pancreatic cancer who have undergone curative surgical resection. Hermeneutic phenomenology as applied by Heidegger provided the philosophical underpinnings for this study and van Manen’s methodological approach was used to guide the research process. Semi-structured interviews, observations, and field notes from 18 participants were collected and analyzed to provide an in-depth understanding of the scanxiety experience. Additional sources of data using art and poetry were used to further illuminate the true essence of the experience. Thematic analysis uncovered two essential themes: the recurring cycle of scanxiety and hope for lifelong remission. The recurring cycle of scanxiety was introduced as a four-stage process and described the complex sequence of events participants experienced during the time surrounding their surveillance scans. Hope for lifelong remission served as the primary objective of survivorship, offering a glimmering chance of a cure and keeping survivors engaged throughout the cycle. This study illuminates the intricate relationship between the pancreatic cancer survivor and their surveillance scan and highlights the complex way in which survivors experience their scans. The results of this study highlight the need for heightened awareness among oncology providers to help guide the development of interventions and improve outcomes across cancer patient populations.

Included in

Oncology Commons