January 23rd: Dealing with mask anxiety

radiation-masksPatients undergoing radiotherapy for head and neck and brain cancers often require immobilization to help them keep still during treatment. Going through the process of making and wearing a “safety mask” can be a significant source of  worry for patients. January’s chat looks at the issue of “mask anxiety” and what we can do to help.

Nixon et al. Exploring the prevalence and experience of mask anxiety for the person with head and neck cancer undergoing radiotherapy. 2018. JMRS. 65(4); 282-290.

Now read January’s blog by journalist and head and neck cancer survivor Julie McCrossin: “The Mask and How to Help


1. Julie’s blog this month says that her mask was “the most traumatic aspect” of her treatment. What does it feel like for patients and what factors can contribute to mask anxiety?

2. What measures can we take to help prepare patients before they have a mask made?

3. What strategies do patients and practitioners use to manage mask anxiety before and during radiotherapy?

4. What can we do better? How do you think we can reduce the prevalence of mask anxiety in the future?

Additional reading:

Times: Vancouver 12pm/Edmonton 1pm/Toronto 3pm/UK 8pm/Sydney 7am (24th)/Auckland 9am (24th)

Missed the chat? See the highlights here

Image: Moffit Cancer Centre

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