ATS: Cancer-Related Suicide Risk Highest for Lung Cancer Patients

Odds up four-fold compared to people in the general population

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WEDNESDAY, May 24, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- Patients with lung cancer have a strikingly higher-than-normal risk of suicide, according to research presented at the annual meeting of the American Thoracic Society, held from May 19 to 24 in Washington, D.C.

The study included data from 3,640,229 patients during a 40-year period. Cancer diagnoses were linked to 6,661 suicides.

While a cancer diagnosis on its own significantly raised the risk of suicide, the team found that a lung cancer diagnosis raised the odds of suicide by over four times compared to people in the general population (standardized mortality ratios for lung, colorectal, breast, and prostate cancer: 4.2, 1.4, 1.4, and 1.2, respectively). Among lung cancer patients, certain groups were much more likely to commit suicide. These groups included Asians, people whose cancer had metastasized, patients who refused surgery, older patients, widowed patients, and men.

"While cancer diagnosis counselling is an established practice, especially if a patient seems depressed, referral for ongoing psychological support and counseling typically does not happen," Mohamed Rahouma, M.D., of the Weill Cornell Medical College/New York Presbyterian Hospital in New York City, said in a news release from the American Thoracic Society. "This represents a lost opportunity to help patients with a devastating diagnosis."

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