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Increased Suicide Risk Seen for Patients Undergoing Cancer Surgery

Greatest risk of suicide seen for male, White, and divorced or single patients

By Elana Gotkine HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Jan. 13, 2023 (HealthDay News) — The incidence of suicide is increased among patients undergoing cancer surgery, according to a study published online Jan. 12 in JAMA Oncology.

Alexandra L. Potter, from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and colleagues conducted a retrospective cohort study using data from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program database to examine the incidence of suicide and timing of suicide among patients undergoing surgery for the 15 deadliest cancers from 2000 to 2016 in the United States. Factors associated with an increased risk of suicide were identified.

A total of 1,811,397 patients met the study inclusion criteria. The researchers found that after undergoing surgery for cancer, 1,494 patients (0.08 percent) committed suicide. Compared with the general U.S. population, the incidence of suicide was significantly higher among patients undergoing surgery for cancers of the larynx, oral cavity and pharynx, esophagus, bladder, pancreas, lung, stomach, ovary, brain, and colon and rectum (standardized mortality ratios, 4.02, 2.43, 2.25, 2.09, 2.08, 1.73, 1.70, 1.64, 1.61, and 1.28, respectively). Of the suicides, about 3, 21, and 50 percent were committed within the first month, first year, and first three years after surgery. The greatest risk of suicide was seen for male, White, and divorced or single patients.

“Efforts to implement regular psychosocial distress screening of patients during preoperative evaluation and postoperative recovery and efforts to increase psychosocial support for these patients during postoperative recovery may represent possible strategies to reduce suicide risk among patients undergoing cancer operations,” the authors write.

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