Among a plethora of other pieces of published evidence, a New England Journal of Medicine study showed that the risk of premature death is present before treatment begins. Furthermore, the preponderance of the evidence established a causal relationship between “terminal” diagnoses and many more cancer patient deaths. In other words, the worse the patient’s prognosis, the worse the patients got and the more deaths ensued.

“As compared with cancer-free persons, the relative risk of suicide among patients receiving a cancer diagnosis was 12.6 (95% confidence interval [CI], 8.6 to 17.8) during the first week (29 patients; incidence rate, 2.50 per 1000 person-years) and 3.1 (95% CI, 2.7 to 3.5) during the first year (260 patients; incidence rate, 0.60 per 1000 person-years). The relative risk of cardiovascular death after diagnosis was 5.6 (95% CI, 5.2 to 5.9) during the first week (1318 patients; incidence rate, 116.80 per 1000 person-years) and 3.3 (95% CI, 3.1 to 3.4) during the first 4 weeks (2641 patients; incidence rate, 65.81 per 1000 person-years). The risk elevations decreased rapidly during the first year after diagnosis. Increased risk was particularly prominent for cancers with a poor prognosis. The case-crossover analysis largely confirmed results from the main analysis. CONCLUSIONS: In this large cohort study, patients who had recently received a cancer diagnosis had increased risks of both suicide and death from cardiovascular causes, as compared with cancer-free persons. (Funded by the Swedish Council for Working Life and Social Research and others.) (Source)

Was this Study well designed ?

From the looks of this study, the evidence appears all the more robust that this study involved a huge population of 6 millions  adult residents of Sweden age 30 or older who were enrolled in a nationwide health registry from 1991 to 2006. During this time, about 534,000 people in the registry received a first diagnosis of cancer. Slightly more than 26,300 people were diagnosed with cancers considered to be highly fatal, including those of the esophagus, pancreas, and liver. Compared to people without a diagnosis of cancer, the following were the published results.

People with cancer were 12 times more likely to commit suicide within a week of diagnosis and three times more likely to commit suicide within a year.

Cancer patients had a fivefold increase in deaths due to heart attack, stroke, or blood clots in the week following their diagnosis. In the first month following their diagnosis they had a threefold increase in risk, compared to people without cancer.

People with the most deadly cancers had a 16-fold greater suicide risk within a week of diagnosis and a 15-fold greater risk of having a fatal heart attack or stroke.

Within a year of diagnosis, the suicide, heart attack, stroke, and blood clot-related death risk had returned to normal levels for people with all types of cancer.

 Analogy with the Broken-Heart Syndrome