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      Scanxiety Conversations on Twitter: Observational Study


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          Scan-associated anxiety (or “scanxiety”) is commonly experienced by people having cancer-related scans. Social media platforms such as Twitter provide a novel source of data for observational research.


          We aimed to identify posts on Twitter (or “tweets”) related to scanxiety, describe the volume and content of these tweets, and describe the demographics of users posting about scanxiety.


          We manually searched for “scanxiety” and associated keywords in cancer-related, publicly available, English-language tweets posted between January 2018 and December 2020. We defined “conversations” as a primary tweet (the first tweet about scanxiety) and subsequent tweets (interactions stemming from the primary tweet). User demographics and the volume of primary tweets were assessed. Conversations underwent inductive thematic and content analysis.


          A total of 2031 unique Twitter users initiated a conversation about scanxiety from cancer-related scans. Most were patients (n=1306, 64%), female (n=1343, 66%), from North America (n=1130, 56%), and had breast cancer (449/1306, 34%). There were 3623 Twitter conversations, with a mean of 101 per month (range 40-180). Five themes were identified. The first theme was experiences of scanxiety, identified in 60% (2184/3623) of primary tweets, which captured the personal account of scanxiety by patients or their support person. Scanxiety was often described with negative adjectives or similes, despite being experienced differently by users. Scanxiety had psychological, physical, and functional impacts. Contributing factors to scanxiety included the presence and duration of uncertainty, which was exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic. The second theme (643/3623, 18%) was the acknowledgment of scanxiety, where users summarized or labeled an experience as scanxiety without providing emotive clarification, and advocacy of scanxiety, where users raised awareness of scanxiety without describing personal experiences. The third theme was messages of support (427/3623, 12%), where users expressed well wishes and encouraged positivity for people experiencing scanxiety. The fourth theme was strategies to reduce scanxiety (319/3623, 9%), which included general and specific strategies for patients and strategies that required improvements in clinical practice by clinicians or health care systems. The final theme was research about scanxiety (50/3623, 1%), which included tweets about the epidemiology, impact, and contributing factors of scanxiety as well as novel strategies to reduce scanxiety.


          Scanxiety was often a negative experience described by patients having cancer-related scans. Social media platforms like Twitter enable individuals to share their experiences and offer support while providing researchers with unique data to improve their understanding of a problem. Acknowledging scanxiety as a term and increasing awareness of scanxiety is an important first step in reducing scanxiety. Research is needed to guide evidence-based approaches to reduce scanxiety, though some low-cost, low-resource practical strategies identified in this study could be rapidly introduced into clinical care.

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          Most cited references24

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          Global cancer statistics 2020: GLOBOCAN estimates of incidence and mortality worldwide for 36 cancers in 185 countries

          This article provides an update on the global cancer burden using the GLOBOCAN 2020 estimates of cancer incidence and mortality produced by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Worldwide, an estimated 19.3 million new cancer cases (18.1 million excluding nonmelanoma skin cancer) and almost 10.0 million cancer deaths (9.9 million excluding nonmelanoma skin cancer) occurred in 2020. Female breast cancer has surpassed lung cancer as the most commonly diagnosed cancer, with an estimated 2.3 million new cases (11.7%), followed by lung (11.4%), colorectal (10.0 %), prostate (7.3%), and stomach (5.6%) cancers. Lung cancer remained the leading cause of cancer death, with an estimated 1.8 million deaths (18%), followed by colorectal (9.4%), liver (8.3%), stomach (7.7%), and female breast (6.9%) cancers. Overall incidence was from 2-fold to 3-fold higher in transitioned versus transitioning countries for both sexes, whereas mortality varied <2-fold for men and little for women. Death rates for female breast and cervical cancers, however, were considerably higher in transitioning versus transitioned countries (15.0 vs 12.8 per 100,000 and 12.4 vs 5.2 per 100,000, respectively). The global cancer burden is expected to be 28.4 million cases in 2040, a 47% rise from 2020, with a larger increase in transitioning (64% to 95%) versus transitioned (32% to 56%) countries due to demographic changes, although this may be further exacerbated by increasing risk factors associated with globalization and a growing economy. Efforts to build a sustainable infrastructure for the dissemination of cancer prevention measures and provision of cancer care in transitioning countries is critical for global cancer control.
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            Cancer statistics, 2023

            Each year, the American Cancer Society estimates the numbers of new cancer cases and deaths in the United States and compiles the most recent data on population-based cancer occurrence and outcomes using incidence data collected by central cancer registries and mortality data collected by the National Center for Health Statistics. In 2023, 1,958,310 new cancer cases and 609,820 cancer deaths are projected to occur in the United States. Cancer incidence increased for prostate cancer by 3% annually from 2014 through 2019 after two decades of decline, translating to an additional 99,000 new cases; otherwise, however, incidence trends were more favorable in men compared to women. For example, lung cancer in women decreased at one half the pace of men (1.1% vs. 2.6% annually) from 2015 through 2019, and breast and uterine corpus cancers continued to increase, as did liver cancer and melanoma, both of which stabilized in men aged 50 years and older and declined in younger men. However, a 65% drop in cervical cancer incidence during 2012 through 2019 among women in their early 20s, the first cohort to receive the human papillomavirus vaccine, foreshadows steep reductions in the burden of human papillomavirus-associated cancers, the majority of which occur in women. Despite the pandemic, and in contrast with other leading causes of death, the cancer death rate continued to decline from 2019 to 2020 (by 1.5%), contributing to a 33% overall reduction since 1991 and an estimated 3.8 million deaths averted. This progress increasingly reflects advances in treatment, which are particularly evident in the rapid declines in mortality (approximately 2% annually during 2016 through 2020) for leukemia, melanoma, and kidney cancer, despite stable/increasing incidence, and accelerated declines for lung cancer. In summary, although cancer mortality rates continue to decline, future progress may be attenuated by rising incidence for breast, prostate, and uterine corpus cancers, which also happen to have the largest racial disparities in mortality.
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              Social media use among patients and caregivers: a scoping review

              Objective To map the state of the existing literature evaluating the use of social media in patient and caregiver populations. Design Scoping review. Data sources Medline, CENTRAL, ERIC, PubMed, CINAHL Plus Full Text, Academic Search Complete, Alt Health Watch, Health Source, Communication and Mass Media Complete, Web of Knowledge and ProQuest (2000–2012). Study selection Studies reporting primary research on the use of social media (collaborative projects, blogs/microblogs, content communities, social networking sites, virtual worlds) by patients or caregivers. Data extraction Two reviewers screened studies for eligibility; one reviewer extracted data from relevant studies and a second performed verification for accuracy and completeness on a 10% sample. Data were analysed to describe which social media tools are being used, by whom, for what purpose and how they are being evaluated. Results Two hundred eighty-four studies were included. Discussion forums were highly prevalent and constitute 66.6% of the sample. Social networking sites (14.8%) and blogs/microblogs (14.1%) were the next most commonly used tools. The intended purpose of the tool was to facilitate self-care in 77.1% of studies. While there were clusters of studies that focused on similar conditions (eg, lifestyle/weight loss (12.7%), cancer (11.3%)), there were no patterns in the objectives or tools used. A large proportion of the studies were descriptive (42.3%); however, there were also 48 (16.9%) randomised controlled trials (RCTs). Among the RCTs, 35.4% reported statistically significant results favouring the social media intervention being evaluated; however, 72.9% presented positive conclusions regarding the use of social media. Conclusions There is an extensive body of literature examining the use of social media in patient and caregiver populations. Much of this work is descriptive; however, with such widespread use, evaluations of effectiveness are required. In studies that have examined effectiveness, positive conclusions are often reported, despite non-significant findings.

                Author and article information

                JMIR Cancer
                JMIR Cancer
                JMIR Cancer
                JMIR Publications (Toronto, Canada )
                19 April 2023
                : 9
                : e43609
                [1 ] Medical Oncology Concord Cancer Centre Concord Australia
                [2 ] Sydney Medical School University of Sydney Camperdown Australia
                [3 ] Psycho-Oncology Cooperative Research Group School of Psychology University of Sydney Camperdown Australia
                [4 ] Centre for Medical Psychology and Evidence-based Decision-making University of Sydney Camperdown Australia
                Author notes
                Corresponding Author: Kim Tam Bui tam.bui@ 123456health.nsw.gov.au
                Author information
                ©Kim Tam Bui, Zoe Li, Haryana M Dhillon, Belinda E Kiely, Prunella Blinman. Originally published in JMIR Cancer (https://cancer.jmir.org), 19.04.2023.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work, first published in JMIR Cancer, is properly cited. The complete bibliographic information, a link to the original publication on https://cancer.jmir.org/, as well as this copyright and license information must be included.

                : 20 October 2022
                : 28 February 2023
                : 19 March 2023
                : 20 March 2023
                Original Paper
                Original Paper

                anxiety,cancer,medical imaging,oncology,psycho-oncology,social media,twitter,tweet,scanxiety,mental health,sentiment analysis,thematic analysis,screen time,scan,hyperawareness,radiology


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