Year: 2020 Source: Current Opinion in Supportive and Palliative Care. (2020). 14(3), 239-246. doi: 10.1097/SPC.0000000000000503. SIEC No: 20200836

Purpose of review: The aim of this study was to summarize the literature on prevalence and risk factors for suicidality in cancer patients and to document the research on oncology healthcare professionals’ strategies in identifying this risk.

Recent findings: Cancer patients exhibit increased risk of suicidality compared with the general population. Various risk factors have been identified including sociodemographic factors such as poverty, being male and elderly as well as disease-related attributes such as cancer type and stage. The literature on how healthcare professionals identify suicide risk is sparse. Ten articles were found that focused on two main themes. These included information on systematic strategies in identifying suicide risk and factors that affect healthcare professionals’ ability to identify risk in their patients.

Summary: Although there is an immense amount of literature documenting the problem of suicidality among patients, the research on how healthcare professionals identify and respond to these indications in patients is nearly nonexistent. Cancer centres should implement standardized and systematic screening of cancer patients for suicidality and research on this patient population should collect and report these data. Ongoing training and education for healthcare professionals who work in the oncology setting on how to identify and respond to suicide risk among cancer patients is urgently needed.