According to a new study published in The American Journal of Surgery, researchers have found that for patients with schizophrenia and breast cancer, initial radical surgery without adjuvant radiation therapy may be preferred. For the study, researchers sought to investigate how patients with schizophrenia who later develop breast cancer handle treatment with adjuvant radiation.
Researchers identified 40 patients with schizophrenia who later developed breast cancer and were candidates for adjuvant radiation therapy from the national computer database of the Department of Veterans Affairs. Results showed clinicians decided to offer adjuvant radiation therapy in 35 of 40 patients, but only offered it to 22 patients. Of those 22 patients, 23% refused treatment with adjuvant radiation therapy.
The findings suggest that patients with both schizophrenia and breast cancer do not fully comprehend their diseases. In addition, patients with schizophrenia are often non-compliant with recommended standard therapies, especially those that depend upon adjuvant radiation therapy. Therefore, the research suggest that strategies that involve conserving the breast may not be the best option, and initial radical surgery without the use of radiation may be better for the patient.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, patients with schizophrenia often lack the ability to understand information and use that information to make decisions.
The authors sought to evaluate how patients with schizophrenia who are later diagnosed with breast cancer fare when adjuvant radiation therapy (ART) is clinically indicated.