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Cancer Survivor suicide, depression…

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“Patients undergoing cancer surgery have an increased risk of suicide compared with the general population, according to research published in JAMA Oncology…”

Yes, a cancer diagnosis sucks. We all feel a host of negative emotions when we hear “you have cancer.” Our risk of suicide, according to the study below, increases with cancer surgery. Keep in mind that chemo can also “bring you down” as the article says.

This is a bit off topic but dexamethasone, a common chemo that is often combined in chemo cocktails can actually cause dramatic psychosis- see below.

Living with cancer since my original diagnosis in early 1994 has taught me that conventional oncology’s approach to cancer is purely physical. Yet many lf the short and long-term side effects of cancer are mental.

Fortunately, I can  tell you that a host of therapies that are evidence-based but not FDA approved and are therefore non-conventional therapies, not only help us cope, but may even put us in a better place than where we were before we heard those three nasty words.

Several central issues to remember:

  • Surgery, chemo, radiation- all conventional cancer therapies can make you feel both physically and mentally fatigued, spent, nauseous, generally miserable. 
  • Any, all statistics that you might read or are told, may or may not apply to you- statistics are simply averages. Your oncologist is obligated to give you some sort of information if you as “how long do I have?” 
  • Think outside the conventional oncology box. Meaning, surviving cancer, in my experience, requires more than surgery, chemo and/or radiation. Think meditation, exercise, nutrition, lifestyle therapies and more.

To be specific, I was told that my cancer had an average life expectance of 3-5 years. That was in 1994. And in fairness, I had to walk a fine line between hope and reality. All cancer patients have to.

The solution? Evidence-based mind-body therapy. Interestingly, each of these therapies can help you manage physical pain, risk of relapse and risk of other side effects.

If you have been diagnosed with cancer, any type, any stage, my experience is that your oncologist has focused on your physical health. I firmly believe that cancer patients must attend to both their physical and mental health.

Scroll down the page, post a question or comment and I will reply to you ASAP.

Thanks and hang in there,

David Emerson

  • Cancer Survivor
  • Cancer Coach
  • Director PeopleBeatingCancer

Depression is definitely a side effect of managing cancer. Read more…

Patients Undergoing Cancer Surgery Have Higher Risk of Suicide

“Patients undergoing cancer surgery have an increased risk of suicide compared with the general population, according to research published in JAMA Oncology

Patients who had cancers with lower 5-year overall survival (OS) rates were more likely to die by suicide. The risk of suicide was highest for patients with

  • head and neck cancers,
  • bladder cancer,
  • esophageal cancer,
  • and pancreatic cancer…

Researchers evaluated the incidence of suicide and factors associated with it among patients undergoing surgery for the 15 deadliest cancers in the United States from 2000 to 2016.

The cohort included 1,811,397 patients who underwent cancer surgery. Most patients (74.4%) were women, and their median age was 62 years. The median follow-up was 4.6 years.

A total of 1494 patients (0.08%) died by suicide after cancer surgery. In an adjusted analysis, the incidence of suicide was significantly higher in this cohort than in the general population (standardized mortality ratio [SMR], 1.29; 95% CI, 1.23-1.36).

Compared with the general population, the incidence of suicide was significantly higher for patients undergoing surgery for the following cancers:

  • Laryngeal cancer (SMR, 4.02; 95% CI, 2.67-5.81)
  • Oral cavity and pharyngeal cancer (SMR, 2.43; 95% CI, 1.93-3.03)
  • Esophageal cancer (SMR, 2.25; 95% CI, 1.43-3.38)
  • Bladder cancer (SMR, 2.09; 95% CI, 1.53-2.78)
  • Pancreatic cancer (SMR, 2.08; 95% CI, 1.29-3.19)
  • Lung cancer (SMR, 1.73; 95% CI, 1.47-2.02)
  • Stomach cancer (SMR, 1.70; 95% CI, 1.22-2.31)
  • Ovarian cancer (SMR, 1.64; 95% CI, 1.13-2.31)
  • Brain cancer (SMR, 1.61; 95% CI, 1.12-2.26)
  • Colorectal cancer (SMR, 1.28; 95% CI, 1.16-1.40).

Patients who had cancers with 5-year OS rates greater than 80% — uterine, kidney, breast, and cervical cancer — did not have an increased risk of suicide compared with the general population.

Similarly, patients who had cancers with higher 5-year OS rates had lower SMRs than patients who had cancers with lower 5-year OS rates (slope, −0.022; 95% CI, −0.039 to−0.004; P =.02).

Approximately 3% of suicides occurred within the first month after surgery, 21% occurred within the first year, and 50% occurred within 3 years…

Is Chemotherapy Bringing You Down?

“If you’re dealing with cancer, there are many reasons why you might be depressed. But cancer treatments like chemotherapy can also be a driving force behind your mood change. And depression can curtail your well-being in many ways…

Psychiatric complications of treatment with corticosteroids: Review with case report


Psychiatric complications of corticosteroid treatment range from anxiety and insomnia to severe mood disorders, delirium and dementia. The psychiatric symptoms typically come on within 1–2 weeks after starting high-dose corticosteroid steroid treatment and the most common serious adverse event reported is hypomania or mania, though various forms of psychotic syndromes, taken together, are even more common. Hypo-albuminemia appears to be a risk factor worth attending to, as does co-administration of drugs that may slow the metabolism of the corticosteroid, for example, P450 (CYP) 3A4 inhibitors. Although steroid taper or discontinuation can remedy these adverse effects, psychotropic medications are often required, either because of the inability to discontinue the steroid treatment or the severity of the psychiatric symptoms. The psychotropic medication classes that are effective for particular idiopathic psychiatric syndromes also appear to be effective in cases induced by corticosteroid treatment.

Although much remains to learn about adverse psychiatric reactions to corticosteroid treatment, physicians, patients and their families should work together to improve awareness of the limited available knowledge and to stimulate research aimed at improved methods of prevention, recognition and treatment.82,84–88,97,98,101,103,104




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