Lung cancer patients in the United States are particularly vulnerable to committing suicide, according to the latest review published in ecancermedicalscience.
Researchers led by Dr Mohamed Rahouma of Weill Cornell Medicine, New York Presbyterian Hospital, New York, USA examined a database of over three million American cancer patients to uncover trends in suicide risk.
Dr Rahoma explains their findings: “Cancer is associated with a high suicide risk. We have shown the correlation in our current work utilising the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) database which covers 4 decades (1973–2013). This population database of the United States of America demonstrates that cancer patients have almost twice the risk compared to the general US population.”
“In our study we found 6,661 suicides out of 3,640,229 cancer patients. The four most common tumours were evaluated. Lung cancer patients were found to be particularly susceptible to suicide and harboured the greatest risk. These patients had four times the risk for suicide than the general population of the USA. The suicide rate was significantly higher in elderly patients, men, widowed patients and Asian patients. The greatest risk appears in the first 7 months of treatment for lung cancer. The greater risk in lung cancer may be related to the perceived dismal outcome often associated with lung cancer, the often late presentation of patients who will be diagnosed only after significant symptoms appear, and the sense of guilt associated with lifetime smoking.”
In regards to intervention, it appears intuitive that patients require strong emotional support and encouragement that treatment can improve their quality of life and provide significant benefits.
“In addition, it is a good practice to request that patients come with a loved one for their consultation and treatments. A full emotional survey is imperative, with pointed questions such as “are you eating, sleeping or considering suicide?” should be conducted, just like a physical exam. A patient who has any of these concerns should be referred to mental health professionals for early intervention.”