Cancer and Suicide-need for emotional support in the first six months of diagnosis

The need for improved psychological support for all patients diagnosed with cancer, and attention to modifiable risk factors, such as pain, particularly in specific cancer groups comes from a nationwide survey in England with regard to suicide.( Henson et al, November 21, 2018, JAMA Oncology).

In this population-based study of 4 722 099 adult patients with cancer, a 20% increased risk of suicide compared with the general population was noted, corresponding to 0.19 excess deaths per 10 000 person-years. Patients with mesothelioma, pancreatic, esophageal, and lung cancer had the highest risk.

The study concludes that the first 6 months after diagnosis of cancer has been shown to be a critical period, identifying the time during which cancer care pathways should pay particular attention to the psychological health needs of the patients; as suicide is hard to predict, all patients should receive improved psychological support.

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