May 1 (UPI) -- People with brain cancer are at increased risk for suicide, particularly within the first year after diagnosis, a new analysis has found.
In a study published Friday by JAMA Network Open, researchers in the United States, Egypt and Germany reported that the rate of suicide in people with brain cancer is roughly three times higher than the general population during the year after diagnosis.
This is based on overall suicide rates for a variety of demographic groups. In all, though, fewer than 1 percent of those with the disease who were included in the analysis died of suicide.
"Cancer patients can be vulnerable to psychological distress following their diagnosis, especially in the cases of cancers with a relatively worse prognosis like brain cancer," study co-author Dr. Anas Saad, a researcher in the department of cardiovascular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation in Ohio, told UPI.
These patients, Saad said, need psychological support, and their support system -- family, friends, etc. -- must be trained properly to detect the earliest signs of mental anguish and depression.
Roughly 24,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with brain tumors annually, and some 18,000 deaths are linked with the disease each year, according to recent estimates from the American Cancer Society.
For the analysis, the researchers reviewed data from the National Cancer Institute's Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program on roughly 88,000 brain cancer patients -- 49,000 of whom were men -- diagnosed between 2000 and 2016.
Ultimately, 29 of these patients -- 0.03 percent -- died by suicide, while nearly 34,000 died from the disease. Of those who died by suicide, 27 were men, 26 were white and 24 were age 44 or older. Eighteen of these patients had a glioblastoma, the most aggressive form of brain cancer.
Based on the findings, the risk for suicide following a brain cancer diagnosis appears particularly high among men and those older than 64, the authors said. A previous study by the same group of researchers found an increased risk for suicide among those diagnosed with various forms of cancer.
"Screening for depression and suicide risk, especially soon after a brain cancer diagnosis, may help detect early signs of depression among patients and treat it accordingly," Saad said.