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Cancer Patients Commit Suicide


Cancer Patients Commit Suicide

(ePharmaNews) - When someone is diagnosed with cancer, the most common concerns among relatives is the long-term prognosis, how long one will live and how badly the side effects of treatment will be. Anyway, a new Swedish study suggests that the period immediately following the diagnosis may be the most serious concern.

In this study, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, a team of researchers from Karolinska Institute has followed over 6 million Swedes during 1991-2006 to investigate whether the risk of suicide and cardiovascular death increases immediately after a cancer diagnosis. During the study period, more than 500 000 people were diagnosed with cancer.


The researchers found that suicide risk during the first week following the diagnosis was twelve times higher than in people without cancer. Similarly, the risk of cardiovascular death was six times higher during the first week and three times higher during the first month, after a cancer diagnosis, compared to people without cancer. Risk elevation of both suicide and cardiovascular death decreased rapidly thereafter during the first year after diagnosis.
Furthermore, risk elevation was most pronounced in malignancies with a poor prognosis, e.g. lung and pancreatic cancers, and least pronounced in skin cancer.


"Both suicide and cardiovascular death can be seen as manifestations of the extreme emotional stress induced by the cancer diagnosis. The results of this study indicate that the mental distress associated with being given a cancer diagnosis may bring about immediate and critical risks to mental and physical health," says Dr Fang Fang, a researcher at the Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics at Karolinska Institutet, who led the study.
In their publication, the researchers suggest that the evident health risks demonstrated in newly diagnosed cancer patients are likely to represent just the tip of the iceberg of mental suffering in this group of patients. This new understanding of the serious consequences of a cancer diagnosis has great implications for the relatives and healthcare personnel of cancer patients.
 
"Our study may, we hope, lead to improvements in the care of newly diagnosed cancer patients and hopefully diminish the risk of stress-related disease and death," says Dr Fang Fang.


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Prepared by: Laila Nour


Source :

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