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Care for patients diagnosed with Mesothelioma must encompass the psychological as well as the physical symptoms of the disease. Numerous scientific studies report that there is an increased risk of suicide and cardiovascular death after a cancer diagnosis.
The risks appear to be highest in the first week following diagnosis and to decrease throughout the first year. The risk rates for suicide were found to be highest in patients with a poor prognosis and, specifically, in men. The risk of cardiovascular deaths following diagnosis was also strongest in the first weeks following diagnosis and then decreased throughout the first year.
In our nationwide cohort study of more than 6 million persons, those who received a diagnosis of cancer had an increased risk of suicide or death from cardiovascular causes within the first weeks after the diagnosis. This spike in risk was particularly prominent among patients in whom cancers with a poor prognosis were diagnosed and was not explained by preexisting psychiatric or cardiovascular conditions.
Fang Fang, M.D., Ph. D. et al., “Suicide and Cardiovascular Death after a Cancer Diagnosis,” The New England Journal of Medicine , April 5, 2012, pg. 1316.
Furthermore, scientific research indicates that delirium frequently accompanies terminal illness. In “Suicide and Terminal Illness,” Peter Marzuk of the Department of Psychiatry at Cornell University Medical College in New York wrote in 1994:
Many patients who have a terminal illness suffer from intermittent delirium. The prevalence of organic mental syndromes among those with terminal cancer may be as high as 85% (Massie et al., 1983) and may be even higher for those with AIDS (Perry, 1990). This not only makes interviewing these patients difficult, but also increases these patients impulsivity and unpredictability, making assessment of suicide risk difficult (Pg. 497).
Medical needs are not the sole priority when caring for a loved one diagnosed with Mesothelioma. If a family member or friend has been diagnosed with Mesothelioma, it is important to provide compassionate and loving support – offer transportation to/from a doctor appointment; make a homemade meal; spend a few hours cleaning your loved one’s home; go grocery shopping; and/or enjoy an afternoon of pleasant conversation and companionship. Keep vigilant watch over mood and demeanor of your loved one and express concern for a heightened state of sadness and/or depression.