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Suicide risk in cancer patients

GP experts advise screening cancer patients for depression after new research found they were at increased risk of suicide or self-poisoning.

The risk of suicide in cancer patients was increased by 50 per cent, with no raised risk of hospital admissions for deliberate self-harm – suggesting a strong suicidal intent.

The University of Edinburgh study, published online by the British Journal of Cancer, also found the risk of accidental poisonings was sharply increased, by 3.7-fold, and the risk of accidents overall raised 58 per cent.

The researchers suggested some of the accidents, particularly poisonings, might have been deliberate acts recorded incorrectly due to uncertainty about the patient's motivation.

Dr Pawan Randev, Ealing PCT cancer lead, said GPs should ask cancer patients about depression during care reviews.

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