Suicide risk increases significantly following a cancer diagnosis

The findings point to the importance of screening for suicide risk in newly diagnosed patients.


Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the U.S. This incidence is higher among the cancer patients than in the general population.

A new study indicates that the risk of suicide increases significantly in the first year following a diagnosis of cancer. Scientists examined information on all cancer patients in the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) database between 2000 and 2014.

Among the 4,671,989 patients in the investigation, 1,585 submitted suicide within one year of their diagnosis. There was a two and a half times higher hazard than what might be normal in the normal population.

Ahmad Alfaar, MBBCh, MSc, of Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin said, “Awareness among providers to screen for suicide risk and refer to mental health services is important for mitigating such risk and saving lives, especially within the first six months after diagnosis. Moreover, family members and caregivers must be trained to provide psychological support for their ill relatives.”

The outcomes suggest that the most noteworthy increment in risk was found following pancreatic cancer and lung cancer. The risk of suicide additionally increased altogether following a diagnosis of colorectal cancer, however, the danger of suicidal death did not increase essentially following breast and prostate disease diagnoses.

Dr. Hamoda said, “Both cancer and suicide are leading causes of death and present a major public health challenge. Our study highlights the fact that for some patients with cancer, their mortality will not be a direct result of cancer itself, but rather because of the stress of dealing with it, culminating in suicide. This finding challenges us all to ensure that psychosocial support services are integrated early in cancer care.”

The study is published in the journal Cancer.

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