The risk of suicide increases after the diagnosis of cancer

Risks of Cancer

The risk of suicide increases dramatically in the first year after a cancer diagnosis.

A new research indicates that the risk of suicide unfortunately increases dramatically in the first year after a cancer diagnosis, and this increase varies with the type of cancer. Hence the importance of detecting the risk of suicide among new patients, and to ensure that they have good access to social and emotional support to cope with their pathology.

A two and a half times higher risk

“This is the largest study to assess the risk of suicide after a cancer diagnosis in the US population,” said the study director Anas Saad (Ain Shams University, Cairo, Egypt). ). Of the 4,671,989 patients analyzed, 1,585 committed suicide in the year following their diagnosis. This risk was therefore two and a half times higher than in the general population.

“It is important for caregivers to be sensitized to suicide risk screening and to refer patients to mental health services to mitigate this risk and save lives, especially in the first six months after diagnosis,” notes the research team. “In addition, members of the patient’s family and caregivers must be trained to provide psychological support,” she adds.

It all depends on the type of cancer

The highest increase in suicide risk was observed for pancreatic cancer, lung cancer and colorectal cancer. Diagnoses of breast cancer or prostate cancer did not affect the morale of the patients too much. “This finding challenges us all to ensure that psychosocial support services are integrated as early as possible into cancer care,” the authors conclude.

One in five men and one in six women in the world will develop cancer during their lifetime, and one in eight men and one in eleven women will die of the disease. An “alarming increase” according to the IARC, which estimates that 18.1 million new cases of cancer were detected in 2018. The organization estimates at 9.6 million the number of deaths for the same year.

How to reduce the risk of getting cancer

According to the National Cancer Institute, 4 out of 10 cancers are due to exposure to risk factors, directly related to our lifestyles. The NIH provides a series of steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of cancer:

  • Stop smoking even when you consume little tobacco. The latter is the leading cause of cancer deaths. Smoking would be responsible for 45,000 deaths a year.
  • Reduce alcohol consumption, which causes 10% of cancer deaths, or about 15,000 each year.
  • Eat better, that is to say avoid red meat, cold cuts, ultra-processed foods. Focus on a balanced diet consisting of fruits and vegetables, dietary fiber and dairy products.
  • Exercise regularly.

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Angie Mahecha

Angie Mahecha, an Engineering Student at the University of Central Florida, is originally from Colombia but has been living in Florida for the past 10 Years.