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Lung Cancer Diagnosis and Risk of Suicide

Posted: Thursday, June 15, 2017

Compared with those diagnosed with the most common types of non-skin cancers, patients diagnosed with lung cancer seem to be at the greatest risk of suicide, based on the research findings presented at the 2017 American Thoracic Society (ATS) International Conference (Abstract 8321) by Mohamed Rahouma, MD, a postdoctoral cardiothoracic research fellow at Weill Cornell Medical College/New York Presbyterian Hospital.

Dr. Rahouma and colleagues analyzed 3,640,229 patients in the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results database. They focused particularly on the 6,661 suicides associated with a cancer diagnosis over a 40-year period.

The rate of suicide in patients with any kind of cancer was 60% higher than that in the general population. More specifically, lung cancer was associated with a 420% higher risk of suicide; breast cancer, on the other hand, was associated with a 20% higher risk of suicide. In addition, Asian patients with lung cancer had a more than 13-fold increase in suicides, and men with lung cancer had a nearly 9-fold increase in suicides.

The investigators concluded by emphasizing the importance of identifying these high-risk patients and providing proper psychological assessment, support, and counseling to reduce these rates of suicide.