People with Mental Illness Receive Less Cancer Screening

Findings from the systematic review and comparative meta-analysis

Results from a systematic review and comparative meta-analysis show that despite increased mortality from cancer in people with mental illness, this population receives less cancer screening compared with that of the general population. The findings are published online on 28 November 2019 in the The Lancet Psychiatry.

Dr Marco Solmi of the Neurosciences Department, University of Padua in Padua, Italy and colleagues wrote in the study background that people with mental illness are more likely to die from cancer. Their study team assessed whether people with mental illness undergo less cancer screening compared with the general population.

In the systematic review and meta-analysis, they searched PubMed and PsycINFO, without a language restriction, and hand-searched the reference lists of included studies and previous reviews for observational studies from database inception until May 2019.

They included all published studies focusing on any type of cancer screening in patients with mental illness; and studies that reported prevalence of cancer screening in patients, or comparative measures between patients and the general population.

The primary outcome was odds ratio (OR) of cancer screening in people with mental illness versus the general population. The Newcastle-Ottawa Scale was used to assess study quality and I 2 to assess study heterogeneity.

This study is registered with PROSPERO, CRD42018114781.

In total, 47 publications provided data from 46 samples including 4 717 839 individuals (501 559 patients with mental illness, and 4 216 280 controls), of whom 69.85% were women, for screening for breast cancer (k=35; 296 699 individuals with mental illness, 1 023 288 in the general population), cervical cancer (k=29; 295 688 with mental illness, 3 540 408 in general population), colorectal cancer (k=12; 153 283 with mental illness, 2 228 966 in general population), lung and gastric cancer (both k=1; 420 with mental illness, none in general population), ovarian cancer (k=1; 37 with mental illness, none in general population), and prostate cancer (k=6; 52 803 with mental illness, 2 038 916 in general population).

Median quality of the included studies was high at 7 (IQR 6–8).

Screening was significantly less frequent in people with any mental disease compared with the general population for any cancer (k=37; OR 0.76 [95% CI 0.72–0.79]; I 2=98.53% with publication bias of Egger's p value = 0.025), breast cancer (k=27; 0.65 [0.60–0.71]; I 2=97.58% and no publication bias), cervical cancer (k=23; 0.89 [0.84–0.95]; I 2=98.47% and no publication bias), and prostate cancer (k=4; 0.78 [0.70–0.86]; I 2=79.68% and no publication bias), but not for colorectal cancer (k=8; 1.02 [0.90–1.15]; I 2=97.84% and no publication bias).

The study team concluded that despite increased mortality from cancer in people with mental illness, this population receives less cancer screening compared with that of the general population. They argue that specific approaches should be developed to assist people with mental illness to undergo appropriate cancer screening, especially women with schizophrenia.

There was no external funding reported in terms of conduction of this research. 

 

Reference

Solmi M, Firth J, Miola A, et al. Disparities in cancer screening in people with mental illness across the world versus the general population: prevalence and comparative meta-analysis including 4 717 839 people. The Lancet Psychiatry; Published online 28 November 2019.DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/S2215-0366(19)30414-6