Cancer patients at increased risk of suicide

The first national study of its kind in England shows cancer patients have a 20% increased risk of suicide | Public Health England

Cancer patients in England are at increased risk of suicide compared to the general population, according to new figures from Public Health England (PHE). The first national study of its kind in England reveals cancer patients have a 20% increased risk of suicide, with the highest risk seen within the first 6 months of diagnosis.

The findings of the study, presented at PHE’s Cancer Services, Data and Outcomes Conference, show cancers with poorer prognoses are associated with the highest risk, including:

  • mesothelioma
  • pancreatic cancer
  • oesophageal cancer
  • lung cancer
  • stomach cancer

The reasons are complex and not fully understood, but may include fear of pain or treatment side-effects.

Advances in care and treatment mean more people with cancer are surviving and living longer; however, this study suggests many are struggling with their diagnosis.

This highlights the need for emotional support – including targeted psychological screening – to be integrated early into cancer care, alongside diagnosis and treatment. It is important for health professionals to consider the risk of suicide to help avoid potentially preventable deaths.

Full detail at Public Health England

 

 

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