A Literature Review of Suicide in Cancer Patients

Linda Anguiano, MSN, RN; Deborah K. Mayer, PhD, RN, AOCN, FAAN; Mary Lynn Piven, PhD, PMHCNS-BC; Donald Rosenstein, MD


Cancer Nurs. 2012;35(4):E14-e26. 

In This Article


Search Strategy

PubMed, CINAHL, and PsycINFO databases were searched and literature identified within an 11-year period (1999–2010); these articles reported data collected over several decades. The literature search was followed by a hand reference list checking for relevant articles from these 3 databases. Medical Subject Headings terms used in PubMed were neoplasm, psychology, and suicide in adults. MH exact Subject Headings used for CINAHL were (MH "Neoplasm's/PF") and (MH "Suicide"). PsycINFO search used DE "Neoplasms" and DE "Suicide". Searches were confined to human, English, and adults.

Inclusion Criteria

The sources reviewed were research articles published in peer-reviewed journals within the specified 11-year period. The studies were peer reviewed and were relevant to cancer and suicide in the adult population. They included 1 or more of the variables associated with cancer and suicide such as population demographics (gender, age, type, and site of cancer), suicide rates, risk factors including psychological well-being, suicide and depression, assessment tools, and prevention measures. Articles using meta-analysis and case-controlled studies were included.

Data Extraction

A summary table to catalog articles alphabetically by author including publication date, citation, sample, methods, findings, and study limitations was created (see Table). Key findings were organized in this table for further analysis.