Women with mental illness have twice the risk of developing cervical cancer

NewsGuard 100/100 Score

Women with mental illness, neuropsychiatric disability, or substance abuse are less likely to go for gynecological smear tests for cervical cancer and run more than twice the risk of developing the disease. The findings are presented in The Lancet Public Health by researchers from Karolinska Institutet, who stress the importance of proactively approaching these women as a preventative measure against cervical cancer.

In May 2020, the WHO approved a global strategy for eliminating cervical cancer as a women's health problem. Part of the strategy is a requirement that 70 percent of women are screened for the disease at least once before age 35 and twice before age 45.

According to the researchers, inequality of care is one of the major hurdles to this objective.

Our study identified a high-risk group that needs extra attention if we're to succeed in eliminating cervical cancer."

Kejia Hu, one of the study's first authors, postdoc researcher at the Institute of Environmental Medicine at Karolinska Institutet

The observational study included over four million women born between 1940 and 1995. From this population, the researchers calculated the risk of cervical cancer and precancerous cervical lesions as well as participation in screening programs for cervical cancer, comparing women diagnosed by a specialist with mental illness, neuropsychiatric disability, or substance abuse with women without such diagnoses.

"Our results suggest that women with these diagnoses participate more seldom in screening programs at the same time as they have a higher incidence of lesions in the cervix," says Dr. Hu. "We thus found that they have twice the risk of developing cervical cancer."

An elevated risk was observed for all diagnoses, but the greatest association was noted for substance abuse. Women with mental illness should be made more aware of the need to undergo regular gynecological screening, according to the researchers:

"It would lower their risk of cancer," says one of the paper's authors Karin Sundström, senior researcher at the Department of Laboratory Medicine, Karolinska Institutet. "Similarly, if healthcare professionals are more aware of the cancer risk in these patients, they can step up preventative measures and consider how these could be delivered to potentially under-served patients."

The strength of the study lies in the sheer size of the cohort and the length of the time-span period over which the participants were studied. One limitation is that the researchers did not have full data about other risk factors for cervical cancer such as smoking, hormonal contraceptives, and sexually transmitted diseases.

The study was financed by the Swedish Cancer Society. One of the researchers has received fees from a pharmaceutical company for other studies. No other conflicts of interest have been reported.

Source:
Journal reference:

Hu, K., et al. (2023). Invasive cervical cancer, precancerous lesions, and cervical screening participation among women with mental illness in Sweden: a population-based observational study. The Lancet Public Health. doi.org/10.1016/S2468-2667(23)00026-9.

Comments

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
Post a new comment
Post

While we only use edited and approved content for Azthena answers, it may on occasions provide incorrect responses. Please confirm any data provided with the related suppliers or authors. We do not provide medical advice, if you search for medical information you must always consult a medical professional before acting on any information provided.

Your questions, but not your email details will be shared with OpenAI and retained for 30 days in accordance with their privacy principles.

Please do not ask questions that use sensitive or confidential information.

Read the full Terms & Conditions.

You might also like...
Plant-based diets reduce cancer and heart disease risks, study shows