Analysis of Suicide Risk in Patients with Penile Cancer and Review of the Literature

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The treatment for penile cancer has been shown to cause harmful psychiatric symptoms as well as have detrimental effects on well-being. In the past several years, alternatives to total or partial penectomy have emerged, such as chemotherapy, radiation, penile sparing, and laser ablation therapies. A more specific breakdown for penile cancer is in order as the therapy has the potential for life changing surgery. We examined the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) database (1973-2013), comprising 28% of the United States population. International Classification of Diseases, Tenth revision codes C60.8-C60.9 and the International Classification of Diseases-Oncology codes 8010/2, 8010/3, 8051/2, 8051/3, 8052/2, 8052/3, 8070/2, 8070/3-8072/3, 8074/3, 8076/3, and 8083/3-8084/3 were used. Age, race, marital status, and clinicopathologic variables were studied. We used contingency tables of suicide rates; mid-P exact test was used for analysis. There were 13 suicides noted in 6155 patients with squamous cell carcinoma of the penis. All patients that committed suicide had undergone a surgical intervention. Certainly, penile cancer after treatment has a powerful effect on quality of life as increased depression and sexual anxiety have been documented in postoperative patients. This is in contrast to the observed suicide rate. Despite the reported negative psychological effects in patients with penile cancer, suicide rates are among the lowest of all urologic malignancies.

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