Risk and Predictors of Suicide in Colorectal Cancer Patients: A Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Analysis Journal Articles uri icon

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  • Background: The risk of suicide is higher for patients with colorectal cancer (CRC) than for the general population. Given known differences in morbidity and sites of recurrence, we sought to compare the predictors of suicide for patients with colon cancer and with rectal cancer. Methods: Using the U.S. Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results database, adult patients with confirmed adenocarcinoma of the colon or rectum during 1973–2009 were identified. Parametric and nonparametric tests were used to assess selected variables, and Cox proportional hazards regression models were used to determine predictors of suicide. Results: The database identified 187,996 patients with rectal cancer and 443,368 with colon cancer. Compared with the rectal cancer group, the colon cancer group was older (median age: 70 years vs. 67 years; p < 0.001) and included more women (51% vs. 43%, p < 0.001). Suicide rates were similar in the colon and rectal cancer groups [611 (0.14%) vs. 337 (0.18%), p < 0.001]. On univariate analysis, rectal cancer was a predictor of suicide [hazard ratio (hr): 1.26; 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.10 to 1.43]. However, after adjusting for clinical and pathology factors, rectal cancer was not a predictor of suicide (HR: 1.05; 95% CI: 0.83 to 1.33). In the colon cancer cohort, independent predictors of suicide included older age, male sex, white race, and lack of primary resection. The aforementioned predictors, plus metastatic disease, similarly predicted suicide in the rectal cancer cohort. Conclusions: The suicide risk in CRC patients is low (<0.2%), and no difference was found based on location of the primary tumour. Sex, age, race, distant spread of disease, and intact primary tumour were the main predictors of suicide among CRC patients. Further studies and interventions are needed to target these high-risk groups.


  • Samawi, Haider
  • Shaheen, AA
  • Tang, PA
  • Heng, DYC
  • Cheung, WY
  • Vickers, MM

publication date

  • December 2017