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The Cancer-Suicide Link

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“Similarly, the suicide rate among patients with cancer is about double that of individuals with no history of cancer, according to an analysis of 3,604,229 patients..”

Can cancer cause suicide? Can anti-depressants prescribed to make a newly diagnosed cancer patient feel better cause suicidal-thoughts as a side-effect?

The link between cancer and suicide is multifaceted. A diagnosis of cancer, any cancer can cause a host of negative emotions. Cancer can cause physical pain. Conventional cancer therapies themselves can cause pain and suffering. Living with the fear of cancer relapse can cause depression.

I pride myself on writing blog posts about all things cancer because I can often provide evidence-based therapies to manage the problem I’m blogging about. Not this time.

All I can encourage is for cancer patients, survivors and caregivers to understand the issue as fully as possible in hopes of identifying depression and suicidal thoughts.

I am a long-term cancer survivor. If you’d like to ask me a question about the link between suicide and cancer, scroll down the page, post a question or comment and I will reply to you ASAP.

Hang in there,

David Emerson

  • Cancer Survivor
  • Cancer Coach
  • Director PeopleBeatingCancer

Recommended Reading:


Care Coordination Recognized as Biggest Safety Concern in Oncology: Study

“…The high occurrence of suicide observed in the study — which accounted for 10.5% of all of the oncologic adverse events and were linked to problems with care delays, patient and staff education, and communication — was a surprise to the authors, they revealed. “We suspect providers acknowledge the depression that accompanies this illness, but may not appreciate the severity of the depression or comorbid conditions, which may increase the risk of suicide.”1

Depression has been identified as a side effect of certain medications used to treat patients with cancer, and polypharmacy, in particular, may influence reports of depression.2 The authors of the current study suggested private consultations as one of the interventions that could decrease the potential for suicide in patients with malignancies….”

Depression as a Side Effect: Exploring a Link Between Certain Cancer Treatments and Mental Health

“More than a third of all Americans were prescribed 1 or more drugs that have been tied to the adverse events of depression or suicidal ideation…

The types of drugs identified as being linked to depression and suicide include: birth control medications, beta blockers, steroids, sedatives, proton pump inhibitors, and a number of cancer therapy medications…

The issue may be of particular concern for patients with cancer because they report much higher rates of depression compared with the general population.

“Cancer survivors in the United States reported medication use for anxiety and depression at rates nearly 2 times those reported by the general public, likely a reflection of greater emotional and physical burdens from cancer or its treatment,” wrote a group of researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).2

Similarly, the suicide rate among patients with cancer is about double that of individuals with no history of cancer, according to an analysis of 3,604,229 patients in the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) database.Across 40 years of data, researchers found 6661 suicides associated with a cancer diagnosis.”

Prevalence of Prescription Medications With Depression as a Potential Adverse Effect Among Adults in the United States

Meaning  Use of prescription medications that have depression as a potential adverse effect was common and associated with greater likelihood of concurrent depression…

Importance  Prescription medications are increasingly used among adults in the United States and many have a potential for causing depression…

Main Outcomes and Measures  Prevalence of any use and concurrent use of medications with a potential to cause depression and prevalence of depression (PHQ-9 score ≥10)…

The overall estimated prevalence of use of medications with depression as an adverse effect was 37.2%, increasing from 35.0% in the cycle years 2005 and 2006 to 38.4% in 2013 and 2014.

An estimated 6.9%  reported use of 3 or more concurrent medications with a potential for depression as an adverse effect in 2005 and 2006 and 9.5%  reported such use in 2013 and 2014.

In adjusted analyses excluding users of antidepressants, the number of medications used with depression as possible adverse effects was associated with increased prevalence of concurrent depression.

The estimated prevalence of depression was 15% for those reporting use of 3 or more medications with depression as an adverse effect vs 4.7% for those not using such medications.

These patterns persisted in analyses restricted to adults treated with antidepressants, among hypertensive adults, and after excluding users of any psychotropic medication.

Conclusions and Relevance  In this cross-sectional survey study, use of prescription medications that have depression as a potential adverse effect was common. Use of multiple medications was associated with greater likelihood of concurrent depression.”

 

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