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Men With Cancer More Likely to Commit Suicide

Advanced disease and limited support and treatment options increase risk

THURSDAY, Oct. 19 (HealthDay News) -- Men with cancer commit suicide six times more often than women with cancer, and those with head and neck cancer or myeloma and limited social support and treatment options are at highest risk, according to a study published in the Oct. 19 online issue of the Annals of Oncology.

Wayne S. Kendal, M.D., of The Ottawa Regional Cancer Center, in Ontario, Canada, evaluated data on 1.3 million cancer cases in the U.S. Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) registry including 265 female and 1307 male suicide cases. Personal, tumor and social variables were examined.

Women's suicide rate was 0.04 percent and men's was 0.19 percent. Men were 6.2 times as likely as women to commit suicide. Men with head and neck cancer and myeloma were at greatest risk, and those with distant metastases were nearly three times as likely to commit suicide. Married status carried a lower risk for suicide (hazard ratio, 0.46), as did African-American ancestry (hazard ratio, 0.24), and these rates were comparable to those for women.

"The high-risk patient was male, with head and neck cancer or myeloma, advanced disease, little social or cultural support, and limited treatment options. Oncologists and allied health professionals should be aware of the potential for suicide in cancer patients and their associated risk factors," the authors concluded.

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