“Lower screening rates could explain why women with schizophrenia and other serious mental illnesses are found to have more advanced breast cancer at time of diagnosis,” wrote Alison Hwong, M.D., Ph.D., and colleagues at the University of California, San Francisco. “Given the high prevalence of breast cancer and the promising prognosis of breast cancer if detected early, mammography screening is a key first step in improving diagnosis and treatment for people living with schizophrenia.”
Hwong and colleagues compiled data from 11 clinical studies that looked at mammography screening rates in women with schizophrenia or other psychotic disorders. The 11 studies were conducted in four countries with diverse health care systems (United States, Canada, England, and Denmark) and totaled more than 470,000 women; this included 25,447 women with a diagnosis of schizophrenia or other psychotic disorders.
“With time constraints, primary care providers and psychiatrists may not prioritize cancer screening for patients with serious mental illness,” Hwong and colleagues wrote. Physicians may focus on psychiatric and metabolic symptoms first, which “may lead to deferring routine preventive screening discussion for future visits, but the future discussion never occurs.”
The authors called for research on the inequity in breast cancer screening and the development of novel strategies to promote mammography screening of these women.
To read more on this topic, see the Psychiatric News article “UCSF Psychiatrists Bring OB-GYN Care to Patients With SMI.”
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