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Cancer Diagnosis May Raise Odds for Suicide, Heart Attack Death
Date:4/5/2012

that many U.S. patients are already under treatment for coronary artery and vascular disease.

"Certainly, if someone starts having increased symptoms of coronary artery disease, such as angina (chest pain), or decreased ability to walk, or increased shortness of breath with walking, once again that could be a medical emergency -- not just that someone's not feeling well because they've been told they have cancer," he said.

Although cancer treatments and survival rates continue to improve, study author Fall said it's impossible to predict whether statistics in studies like hers might also improve.

"We do observe higher risk increases among patients diagnosed with cancers of less favorable prognosis," she noted. "If the prognosis improves, one could, of course, hope that the risks for adverse stress-related health outcomes would decrease."

The study did not measure suicide attempts or serious but nonfatal heart attacks after a cancer diagnosis.

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute describes how it feels to learn you have cancer.

SOURCES: Katja Fall, M.D, Ph.D., senior lecturer in epidemiology, University of Orebro, Sweden; Len Lichtenfeld, M.D., deputy chief medical officer, American Cancer Society, Atlanta; April 5, 2012, New England Journal of Medicine


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