Patients with schizophrenia can and should participate in cancer screening to the same extent as the general population, with assistance, according to a study published in Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica.
Cancer is often deadly among people with mental illness; mainly due to a lack of early screening in this population. Thus, mental illness patients are often diagnosed with advanced stage cancer, with less treatment options.
Schizophrenia is one such mental illness where cancer is often diagnosed late, due to a lack of rational and coherent thinking in the affected individuals, making it harder to ascertain an accurate diagnosis.
In this first-of-its-kind study, researchers conducted a randomized trial to assess the benefits of interventions for early cancer screening in patients with schizophrenia.
The study comprised 172 patients with schizophrenia across two psychiatric hospitals in Japan were randomized 1:1 to receive either assistance for cancer screening in addition to their usual treatment, or only the latter. A case management team was recruited from among the hospital personnel to inform and assist the patients towards the colorectal cancer (CRC) screening procedure, the researchers noted.
“Although municipalities have been approaching populations to participate in cancer screening, mortality rates remain high among people with severe mental illnesses. Therefore, we developed a case management approach with particular focus on colorectal cancer screening, for patients with schizophrenia in psychiatric outpatient clinics,” said lead scientist, Assistant Professor Masaki Fujiwara via a press release.
“The dissemination of this intervention into routine clinical practice may help bridge the gap between early detection of cancer and mortality across people with schizophrenia and the general population.”, Dr. Fujiwara concludes.