Suicide more common in patients with digestive system cancers
Suicide appears to be more common in patients with cancers of the digestive system, especially in those with pancreatic and oesophageal cancers, a recent study has found.
The analysis included 856,293 patients with digestive system cancers (54.4 percent male), in whom 881 suicide cases were reported over a mean follow-up duration of 3.14 years. The resulting suicide rate was 32.77 per 100,000 person-years, which was almost twice that in the general US population (standardized mortality ratio [SMR], 1.91; 95 percent CI, 1.79–2.04).
Colon cancer was observed in 37 percent of the cohort and was the most common digestive system cancer subtype. This was followed by cancers of the rectum and rectosigmoid junction (16 percent), and pancreatic cancer (14 percent). Oesophageal cancer was the least common subtype (5.1 percent).
Disaggregation of the analysis by cancer site showed that suicide rates were consistently elevated relative to the general population.
Notably, despite being the least common type, oesophageal cancer had one of the highest relative suicide risks (SMR, 5.03; 4.03–6.19), second only to pancreatic cancer (SMR, 5.28; 4.26–6.47). The corresponding absolute rates were 116.54 and 86.04 suicides per 100,000 person-years.
Cancers of the stomach (SMR, 2.84; 2.26–3.53) and of the liver and intrahepatic bile duct (SMR, 2.14; 1.58–2.85) also resulted in suicide rates that were more than double than in the general population.
In contrast, colon (SMR, 1.36; 1.22–1.52) and rectum and rectosigmoid junction (SMR, 1.65; 1.42–1.90) cancers had the lowest suicide rates of all the subtypes, though these were still significantly higher than in the general population.