MONDAY, Jan. 7, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Patients with a cancer diagnosis have an increased risk for suicide during the first year after their diagnosis compared with the general population, with higher suicide rates for cancers with a poor prognosis, according to a study published online Jan. 7 in Cancer.

Anas M. Saad, from Ain Shams University in Cairo, and colleagues examined recent trends in suicide risk after a cancer diagnosis using data from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program. A total of 4,671,989 patients diagnosed with cancer between 2000 and 2014 were included.

The researchers found that 1,585 patients committed suicide within one year of their diagnosis. There was a significant increase in the risk for suicide, with an observed/expected (O/E) ratio of 2.52, and excess risk of 2.51 per 10,000 person-years. The highest increases in the O/E ratio came after diagnoses of pancreatic cancer and lung cancer (8.01 and 6.05, respectively). After a diagnosis of colorectal cancer, there was also a significant increase in the risk for suicide, with an O/E ratio of 2.08. After breast and prostate cancer diagnoses, there was no significant increase in the risk for suicidal death.

“After the diagnosis, it is important that health care providers be vigilant in screening for suicide and ensuring that patients have access to social and emotional support,” the authors write.

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