People with urologic cancers – prostate, bladder, and kidney cancers – are five times more likely to commit suicide, according to recent data presented at the European Association of Urology 2018 Congress. While people with cancer tend to have a higher suicide rate than those who don’t, the suicide rate for people with urologic cancers is significantly increased, leading researchers to recommend an increase in social and psychologic support for patients with kidney, bladder, and prostate cancers.1
About the study
Researchers used data from the United Kingdom from 2001 to 2011 and found several revealing statistics that highlight an unmet need. When looking at suicide deaths per 100,000 patients:
- 36 had urologic cancers
- 30 had other cancers
- 25 were the general population1
Among the suicides that occurred per 100,000 people with urologic cancer:
- 52 had prostate cancer
- 36 had kidney cancer
- 48 had bladder cancer1
Why is suicide higher among those with urologic cancers?
Researchers think there are several reasons why suicide might be higher among people with urologic cancers. The majority of those with urologic cancer who committed suicide were men, which correlates to the higher suicide rate among men compared to women in the general population.1
Receiving a diagnosis of cancer and the treatment for cancer lead to significant psychosocial distress. Particularly in prostate cancer, treatment may lead to possible sexual dysfunction or incontinence (being unable to control urine or bowel movements) that can negatively impact a person’s quality of life. Researchers also note that many men are being diagnosed with prostate cancer at a younger age, which may result in more years of living with adverse treatment side effects. Other research has shown that the majority of people with cancer who have symptoms of depression often go untreated. In addition, for men with prostate cancer who are treated with hormone therapy, the hormonal changes can also trigger distress and depression.1
Help is available
Many people who have considered suicide may not wish to attempt or complete it, but they may not see any other way out. Signs or comments about suicide should always be taken seriously.
If you or someone you know is in imminent danger, call 9-1-1 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (available 24/7 or via online chat). If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts and desires of suicide, but not in imminent danger, seek resources like lifelines and counseling services. There are many lifelines and online chat services that offer trained professionals to discuss what is going on and direct you to resources in your area.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness Helpline: 1-800-950-NAMI (M-F, 10 AM – 6 PM EST)
Or email at firstname.lastname@example.org or text “NAMI” to 741741
For Veterans: 1-800-273-8255 (available 24/7) or online chat.
For LGBTQ affirming services: 866-488-7386 (24/7) or text “Trevor” to 1-202-304-1200 (M-F 3pm-10pm EST) or chat online.