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More suicides among cancer patients: study

AFP/The Local · 5 Apr 2012, 13:09

Published: 05 Apr 2012 13:09 GMT+02:00

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"Previous studies have shown that cancer patients are at higher risk of suicide and cardiovascular disease, which up until now has mainly been ascribed to the emotional strain of living with the potentially fatal disease and the often physically demanding cancer treatment," the Karolinska Institute said in a statement.

"Newly published data on patients with prostate cancer suggest, however, that being given the diagnosis may, in itself, be associated with a marked increase in the stress-related disease and death," it said.

The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, followed more than six million Swedes from 2001 to 2006, including more than 500,000 who were diagnosed with cancer during that period.

"Only a small proportion of patients committed suicide immediately after being diagnosed with cancer. However, the suicide risk during the first week following the diagnosis was twelve times higher than in people without cancer," a statement from the institute said.

"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," it said.

The risk was greatest in malignant cancers with a poor prognosis, such as lung and pancreatic cancers, and least pronounced in skin cancer, it added.

Story continues below…

The fact that the risk decreased in magnitude over time "supports the conclusion that the risk increase may be traced to the diagnosis itself rather than the emotional or physical suffering related to progression of the cancer or its treatment," it said.

Doctor Fang Fang of the Karolinska Institute, who led the study, said the researchers hoped their findings may lead to improvements in the care of newly diagnosed cancer patients.

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

15:24 April 5, 2012 by Svensksmith
What would you rather have:

A.) a quick and painless death


B.) a slow, painful and withering death ?

16:12 April 5, 2012 by libertarianism
Rationed "care". Once sick in Sweden, you have to decide if you're going to die on their terms or your own. There is no dignity, no humanity in the system.
19:28 April 5, 2012 by Douglas Garner
Interesting article. Of the suicides I cannot help but wonder if the deaths resulted from the stress or a reasoned approach to the situation.

If you were told that you were going to die a painful death and that your best hope would be to delay the enevitable through painful treatments which would reduce your quality of life to null... would suicide be an unreasonable alternative?
10:31 April 6, 2012 by Da Goat
I knew a guy who did that ..found out he had cancer and quietly got up one morning and did himself in.

the bit about the cardiac arrests is the interesting bit .... the stress of knowing was enough to push the lurking 2nd killer into gear!

it is well known that unresolved anger and the like will cause your heart to fail, d-anger-ous
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