Schizophrenia and Cancer: Low Incidence, High Mortality

There have been disagreements in the literature about the incidence of cancer among persons with a schizophrenia diagnosis. Risk factors are prevalent in this population, but overall incidence of cancer is reported as low. By contrast, mortality from cancer among those with schizophrenia is universally held to be high. The aim of this review is to collect recent publications on this paradox in an attempt to help resolve it. The literature on the subject is vast, so that the review focuses on articles published in the last few years and covers the latest writings on the cancer protection hypothesis, uptake of cancer screening, provider issues, delays and disruptions in treatment for cancer, quality of care and mortality rates, all in the context of schizophrenia. The conclusion of the review is that persons with schizophrenia receive substandard quality of cancer care due, in part, to their psychopathology, in part to bias and stigma of care providers and, in part, to the organization of health services that isolate psychiatric care from more general medical care.

Author(s): Mary V Seeman

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