Prostate Cancer Diagnosis Raises Suicide Risk

Prostate cancer can be a serious, even life-threatening disease. But in today’s environment, it is usually caught early. When this happens, survival rates are quite good. What’s more, new diagnostic tools and therapies are in the works that will revolutionize treatment of this disease. Despite the sunny future, for many a cancer diagnosis is a grim reminder of their own mortality, at least according to a new study out of Australia. The results of this research have reverberated in urology circles the world over. Men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer are far more likely to commit suicide. This result was announced at the Prostate Cancer World Congress in Cairns, Australia. Investigators examined the cases of 52,000 men living in New South Wales (NSW) diagnosed with prostate cancer between 1997 and 2007. First they isolated the suicide rate among diagnosed men. This was cross-referenced with general suicide rate within the same years and age group. Those men diagnosed with prostate cancer were 70% more likely to take their own lives researchers found. The study was conducted by the NSW Cancer Council. Associate professor and research fellow David Smith was the lead author in this study.

Though only equating to about five suicides a year, taken across Australia that is about 15 per year. Smith, who is a cancer epidemiologist who focuses on prostate cancer, said that suicide leaves a significant impact on friends, family, coworkers, and anyone close to the man. Others wonder how many suicides are associated with prostate cancer in their own countries, and worldwide. Researchers found that suicide for this group tends to take place within three months of diagnosis and mostly among men living in large cities. They tend to be separated, divorced, or single. Smith said psychological counseling should be part of the disease management plan. Those with other mood disorders such as depression at the onset should be monitored closely. Men who are 40 years of age or older should broach the subject of prostate cancer screening with their doctor or an urologist. Those over 50 or in at-risk populations should be screened annually. Though distressing, it does not have to signify the end of life but a merely an episode within it.

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