From the Editor

The big diagnosis. Even years after the fact and even in cases of good outcomes, so many still remember the exact moment when they were told that they had cancer. A patient once recalled with great detail the floor tiles in his doctor’s office (he couldn’t bear looking at his spouse or his doctor). He also remembered feeling so overwhelmed that suicide seemed like an option.

But what is the risk of suicide? In the first selection, Michael Heinrich (of the University of Regensburg) and his co-authors seek to answer that question, drawing on an impressive number of studies including more than 22 million patients. In a new paper for Nature Medicine, they report on a systematic review and meta-analysis; they found that “patients with cancer have an almost twofold increased risk of dying by suicide compared with the general population.” They write: “Despite immense progress in cancer therapy and prognosis in the past decades, suicide remains an important cause of death in patients with cancer.” We consider the paper and its clinical implications.

In the second selection, Dr. Natasha Z. Rabinowitz Steele (of Stanford University) considers her experiences in a New England Journal of Medicine paper. She writes about her cancer diagnosis and treatment, and the impact on her clinical work. She concludes: “Though all of our journeys will have beginnings and endings, our lives are what we choose to do with the precious, unpredictable, terrifying, and beautiful moments in between.”


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