Suicide rates high among patients with newly diagnosed cancer

  • Saad AM & al.
  • Cancer
  • 7 Jan 2019

  • curated by Kelli Whitlock Burton
  • Clinical Essentials
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Takeaway

  • Patients with newly diagnosed cancer have a significantly higher risk for suicide compared with the general population, especially in the first year after diagnosis.
  • Suicide rates were higher in patients with metastatic disease; those with pancreatic, lung, or colorectal cancer; men; and patients >50 years.

Why this matters

  • Understanding factors that increase suicide risk in patients with cancer could aid clinicians in suicide prevention efforts.

Study design

  • 4,671,989 patients with cancer were identified from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program.
  • The observed/expected (O/E) ratio for committing suicide within a year of diagnosis was assessed with respect to the general US population.
  • Funding: None disclosed.

Key results

  • Suicide risks increased significantly within a year of cancer diagnosis (O/E ratio, 2.52; excess risk, 2.51/10,000 person-years).
  • Suicide risks within a year (O/E ratio; P<.05 were higher for metastatic pancreatic lung or colorectal cancer>
  • The increase in suicide risk was higher in males than females in all subgroups (O/E ratio, 2.66; P<.05>
  • Overall deaths reported: 1,005,825 deaths; most patients committing suicide were men (87%), white (90.2%), and 65-84 years old (58%).

Limitations

  • Retrospective study design.

Coauthored with Chitra Ravi, MPharm

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