Best practice in reducing suicide risk in head and neck cancer patients: a structured review

SIMON ROGERS, Joshua Twigg, Jane Anderson, Gerald Humphris, Ioanna Nixon, Anastasios Kanatas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)
66 Downloads (Pure)


Treatment of head and neck cancer (HNC) is often radical and the patient journey can be challenging, especially for individuals struggling with pre-existing mental health problems and lacking social support. Patients frequently suffer from high levels of emotional distress at some point prior to, during, or after treatment and their risk of suicide is markedly elevated. This structured review aimed to identify the extend of the problem, appropriate interventions and areas of future research. We found that the incidence of suicide among HNC patients was significantly elevated above that of the demographically matched general population. Furthermore, suicide risk in HNC patients was frequently higher, than for all other cancer sites. Despite the clear burden of suicide in HNC patients, there is an absence of evidence evaluating interventions to reduce suicidal ideation and suicide risk. Recommendations for practice are made, drawing from the wider literature on suicide prevention.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBritish Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery
Early online date15 Jul 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 15 Jul 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • head and neck cancer
  • free tissue transfer
  • suicide risk
  • oncology
  • suicide prevention


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