High Risk for Suicide in Year Following Cancer Diagnosis

A study published in Cancer indicated that the risk of suicide significantly increases in the first year following a diagnosis of cancer, and this risk was associated with specific cancer types.

Researchers analyzed data from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program to identify 4,671,989 patients diagnosed with cancer between 2000 and 2014. Within the first year of diagnosis, 1,585 patients committed suicide.

The risk of suicide increased significantly with an observed/expected (O/E) ratio of 2.52 (95% CI, 2.39-2.64) and an excess risk of 2.51 per 10,000 person‐years.

When the risk of suicide was studied according to the cancer site, the highest increases in the O/E ratio were associated with pancreatic (8.01; 95% CI, 6.29-10.06) and lung (6.05; 95% CI, 5.42-6.72) cancers. The risk of suicide also increased significantly after a colorectal cancer diagnosis (2.08; 95% CI, 1.74-2.47). Of note, the risk of suicide did not significantly increase after breast and prostate cancer diagnoses.

Suicide during the first year was higher among men (n=1,379; O/E = 2.66; 95% CI, 2.52-2.8) than women (n=206; O/E = 1.86; 95% CI, 1.61-2.13). However, the suicide risk was higher among women (O/E = 3.4 vs. 2.68) in patients ≥84 years of age.

Researchers noted that the most likely reasons for this trend was anxiety and depression.

“Close observation and referral to mental health services, when indicated, are important for mitigating such risk,” the researchers concluded.

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Source: Cancer