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Cancer patients experience substantial psychological effects from facing death, financial issues, emotional problems with friends and family, and adverse medical outcomes from treatment. The psychological effects are so severe that some patients consider suicide.

Depression is more common in people with cancer than in the general population, said Kelly Trevino, Ph.D., from the Center for Research on End-of-Life Care at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York. “The prevalence of depression in this population runs between 12% and 17%, compared to approximately 7% in the general population.”

The risk of suicide also is higher among cancer patients: twice that of the general population. That higher rate is troubling for health professionals. In an effort to intervene earlier, researchers are developing a list of risk factors for depression among cancer patients. Among cancer patients, factors...

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