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A 37-year-old member asked:

As a christian, if i'm diagnosed with cancer and choose not to seek treatment is that suicide?

6 doctor answers24 doctors weighed in
Dr. Barry Rosen
General Surgery 34 years experience
Ask clergy.: As a physician, i feel very strongly that this goes beyond our areas of expertise. The best that we can offer is information regarding risks vs. Benefits and probability of cure. It is a patient's fundamental right to have final say-so regarding accepting treatment.
Dr. Patrick Melder
ENT and Head and Neck Surgery 27 years experience
As a Christian who happens to be a surgeon and I having had to inform patients that they have cancer: doing nothing is always an option (regardless of your faith). No matter your faith, if you have a diagnosis of cancer, a large support network is how you enter decisions like this. And yes, seeking the support and opinion of your pastor is crucial.
Nov 24, 2011
Dr. Donald Hazlett
Psychiatry 54 years experience
We all have choices in life, not the least of which is life itself. Unfortunately the choice to live or die, the ultimate choice, is given little attention on a day to day basis and is often beyond our choosing. If it's a true choice face it with deep consideration. It is not only your right but it is your responsibility. Family can help and your physician can help to make the right decision.
Dec 24, 2011
Dr. Robert Kwok
Dr. Robert Kwok commented
Pediatrics 33 years experience
Agreed, and it is not suicide to decline treatment for a disease, regardless of one's religion.
Jun 19, 2019
Dr. Kathleen Cullen
Internal Medicine 9 years experience
No please see below: I am so sorry to hear of your diagnosis. I am a christian also so i know that the lord will heal you... Either on earth or in heaven. You and your family of believers need to pray hard on how the lord chooses to heal you. If he pleases to heal you here you may need treatment, ..... If he is willing you home to himself, make amends with your family, be at peace, and know we will see you soon.
Dr. Randy Baker
Holistic Medicine 40 years experience
Usually no unless...: I believe the answer depends on the type and stage of cancer. If it is a form of cancer that is diagnosed early and easily curable then one could argue that not treating is a passive form of suicide. However, if it is a more advanced cancer with a poor prognosis then not treating is a very reasonable option considering the side effects and lack of efficacy of most treatments for advanced cancer.
Dr. Ed Friedlander
Pathology 44 years experience
Thank you, Dr. Baker, for your common sense. Some people in some cultures refuse cancer detection and treatment for superstitious reasons, even when it could be easily cured. Yet throwing huge amounts of money at treatments unlikely to produce much benefit is poor stewardship. A member of one of the decent faith communities will have strong support and the information to make good choices.
Sep 19, 2012
Dr. Donald Hazlett
Psychiatry 54 years experience
We are given choices: One of the most important choices is what we do with our lives. Unfortunately most folks do not think about it until it is right in front of them. At that point there may not have been much thought put into it and at times we have no choice at all. To make the choice we need faith, family , friends and if medical, our physician.Trust your sources and you will make a right moral and ethical choice.
Dr. Ed Friedlander
Pathology 44 years experience
Thank you, Dr. Hazlett, for this extremely simple yet utterly profound, and correct answer.
Sep 19, 2012
Dr. Robert Kwok
Dr. Robert Kwok commented
Pediatrics 33 years experience
Agreed, and it is not suicide to decline treatment for a disease, regardless of one's religion.
Mar 1, 2017
Dr. Ed Friedlander
Pathology 44 years experience
Not under the law: You'll have to ask your pastor whether your faith permits you to refuse treatment for a particular illness. Common sense says it's wrong to ignore a cancer that's likely to be cured easily, giving you many more good years. I know no faith that requires that all possible treatments be used even though cure is unlikely / impossible, in preference to comfort measures only.
Dr. Erik Borncamp
Wound care 25 years experience
Philosophers: That is probably a question for philosophers but my understanding of suicide is that you cause your own death. If you get cancer you did nothing to cause that. If Christian you may even believe that it was gods will. Choosing not to treat CA is a perfectly rational medical decision if the treatment is hopeless. Make sure you have talked to your oncologist and are making an educated decision

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Last updated Jun 19, 2019

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