UK study shows that patients with a cancer diagnosis are at increased risk of suicide

6 July 2018

A UK study has shown that patients with cancer are at increased risk of suicide. The study, carried out by Public Health England in association with University College London, compared 20 years of mortality data with figures from NCRAS (National Cancer Registration and Analysis Service) database. The study found that patients with a cancer diagnosis have a 20% higher risk of death from suicide than the general population. The risk of suicide is higher in the first 6 months after diagnosis.

The study also reports that those with cancers with the poorest outcomes have the highest risk, these 'higher risk' cancers being mesothelioma, and cancers of the pancreas, oesophagus, lung and stomach.

Despite advances in treatment and cancer care and improved survival, the study indicates that many people with cancer are struggling psychologically with their diagnosis. This would indicate the need for emotional support to be integrated early into cancer care, alongside diagnosis and treatment, and for health care professionals to be aware of the risk of suicide in patients with a new cancer diagnosis.

Andrew Kaye, Head of Policy from Macmillan Cancer support said 'Being told you have cancer is like being plunged into the unknown and can be an incredibly difficult and frightening timeā€¦..Empowering people with cancer to have difficult conversations about how they are feeling and providing vital support are critical to avoiding potentially preventable deaths'

Further information can be accessed HERE