People with cancer are more than four times more likely to commit suicide than people without cancer, according to Penn State College of Medicine researchers.
In a study using data on more than eight million cancer patients in the United States, the researchers also found that among people with cancer, white males; patients who were diagnosed at a younger age; and patients with lung, head and neck, testicular cancer, and lymphomas were more likely to commit suicide.
Nicholas Zaorsky, radiation oncologist in the Penn State Cancer Institute, said the study—published today (Jan. 14) in Nature Communications—highlights the importance of a comprehensive approach to treating cancer patients.
The researchers used data gathered from the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) program. SEER includes data about cancer incidence, survival, treatment, and age and year of diagnosis, and covers 28 percent of the US population.
For the study, the researchers used SEER data on more than 8.6 million patients who had been diagnosed with invasive cancer—cancer that has spread beyond the tissue in which it originally developed—between 1973 and 2014.