Strategies to remain calm while waiting for biopsy results

For the majority of cancers, the process of receiving a diagnosis begins with a biopsy. The wait for these biopsy results can be incredibly nerve-wracking. Depending on the type of biopsy you’ve had, it can take several days for your results to come back; rest assured, a longer wait does not necessarily mean a positive cancer diagnosis.

Although you can tell yourself to stay calm and be positive, knowing that the results could lead to a cancer diagnosis, or learning that your cancer may have returned, can be an agonising time for you and your loved ones. There is no ‘normal’ way to feel and there are many different ways to cope and try to reduce stress. Below are five strategies to help remain calm while waiting for biopsy results.

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1. Try to avoid preemptive worry

It’s natural to feel anxious, but try to avoid focusing on hypothetical outcomes that can add unnecessary emotional burden. Try to remember that you have not been diagnosed with cancer and your results may come back clear.

2. Use a personal mantra

Create a positive mantra for yourself that you can repeat when you’re feeling anxious. Mantras can provide mental strength and resilience while you wait for your biopsy results. We’ve provided some example phrases below; try to find one that works for you.

“I am strong and I will get through this.”

“I will take this one day at a time.”

“I am not defined by test results; I am more than this moment.”

“I have the power to overcome any obstacles.”

“A test does not equal a diagnosis.”

“Deep breaths, stay calm. Everything will be OK.”

3. Connect with loved ones

Spend time with the family and friends and seek emotional support when you need to. For some people, talking to loved ones who understand their feelings can be comforting. For others, a chat simply offers the chance to get things off their chest. Ultimately, try not to go through the wait for biopsy results alone.

4. Keep busy & practice self care

Engage in activities that bring you joy and keep your mind and body occupied. Consider hobbies, visiting your favourite places, reading a captivating book, or physical activities like bike riding or bush-walking. These not only offer a welcome distraction but can also relieve physical tension and help you unwind.

5. Be cautious with Dr Google

While it’s tempting to search for information online, misinformation and worst-case scenarios can wreak havoc on your mindset. If you decide to research, ensure the information comes from reliable sources. We recommend the Cancer Council website alongside our own Icon Cancer Information Library.

For people who suffer from anxiety, waiting for biopsy results can be particularly distressing. It’s important to seek help from a healthcare professional if you are feeling overwhelmed or are struggling to cope. There are also a number of cancer support agencies who specialise in providing assistance to people with cancer and their loved ones, including support to access information and counselling.


What do you say to someone waiting on biopsy results?

If you are a family member or carer, you may be wondering how you can support someone waiting for their biopsy results. Here are some tips on how you can help:

  • Simply being there for a loved one waiting for biopsy results can help them remain calm. Sometimes an oversupply of advice can create more stress despite your good intentions.
  • Don’t try to solve your loved one’s problems or tell them a story about someone else you know who has cancer. Just let them know you care and are there to listen and offer a shoulder to cry on if they need it.

The content found on the Icon Cancer Centre website is intended solely for informational purposes and should not be considered as medical advice. It is not a substitute for consulting with a qualified medical professional. Our website is designed to provide information and support to the general public. Please be mindful that we do not dispense medical advice, and for personalised medical guidance, we strongly advise you to consult with a qualified medical professional or doctor.

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