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Childhood-Cancer Survivors at Risk of Suicidal Thoughts

Suicidal thoughts more likely if patients are in poor mental and physical health

FRIDAY, Oct. 23 (HealthDay News) -- Adult survivors of childhood cancers are more likely to have thoughts of suicide, particularly if they are in poor mental and physical health, according to a study published online Oct. 19 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Christopher J. Recklitis, Ph.D., from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, and colleagues compared the prevalence of suicidal ideation in 9,126 adult survivors of pediatric cancers and 2,968 siblings by surveying them regarding demographics and medical and psychological functioning.

The researchers found that suicidal ideation in the previous week was more common among cancer survivors (7.8 versus 4.6 percent; odds ratio, 1.79). The risk was associated with cancer diagnosis, depression, and poor current physical health.

"Adult survivors of childhood cancers are at increased risk for suicidal ideation," Recklitis and colleagues conclude. "The association of suicidal symptoms with physical health problems is important because these may be treatable conditions for which survivors seek follow-up care and underscores the need for a multidisciplinary approach to survivor care."

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