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Lung cancer diagnosis increases suicide risk by 420%, according to a recent study.

HemOncToday says:

Patients with lung cancer appeared more than four times as likely to commit suicide as individuals in the general population, according to study results presented at the American Thoracic Society International Conference.

A lung cancer diagnosis increased suicide risk far more than other cancer types, results showed.

We wanted to see what the impact of one of life’s most stressful events is on patients,” Mohamed Rahouma, MD, postdoctoral cardiothoracic research fellow at Weill Cornell Medical College/NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, said in a press release. “Most clinicians do not think about suicide risk in [patients with cancer]. This study, I hope, will change that by making us more aware of those at greatest risk [for] suicide so that this catastrophe in the care of our patients does not happen.”

The researchers pooled data from 3.6 million patients included in the SEER database. The patients had malignancies other than skin cancer.

The investigators assessed the suicide death rate for all cancer types combined, as well as lung, prostate, breast and colorectal cancers individually.

Rahouma and colleagues identified 6,661 suicides associated with cancer diagnoses during a 40-year-period. Patients with any type of cancer had a 60% higher suicide rate than the general population.

When researchers assessed suicide risk among the four most common cancer types individually, they determined lung cancer was associated with a 420% increase in suicide risk compared with the general population. Other malignancies with the greatest effect on suicide risk included colorectal cancer (42% increase), breast cancer (20% increase) and prostate cancer (20% increase).

“[Although] cancer diagnosis counseling is an established practice, especially if a patient seems depressed, referral for ongoing psychological support and counseling typically does not happen,” Rahouma said. “This represents a lost opportunity to help patients with a devastating diagnosis.”

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