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Keywords:

  • cancer;
  • incidence;
  • schizophrenia;
  • standardized incidence ratio

Abstract

BACKGROUND

The incidence of cancer in patients with schizophrenia has been conversely reported to be higher, lower, or similar to that in the general population. The effects of lifestyle factors such as excess smoking, exposure to neuroleptic medications, and genetic factors that may influence the incidence of cancer in this group are not clear. The current study was performed to evaluate the frequency of cancer in a large cohort of patients with schizophrenia and to determine the standardized incidence ratios (SIRs) of any malignancy in this group.

METHODS

Data regarding the design, setting, and participants of the current study were analyzed from a cohort of 3226 patients with schizophrenia who were enrolled in the computerized health registry of the Abarbanel Mental Health Center between1993–2003. The mean age of the patients at the time of the diagnosis of cancer was 49 ± 14.7 years, with the majority of patients (61%) being male. All patients with schizophrenia records in the database were combined with the records of the Israeli National Cancer Registry to identify pathologically confirmed cancer comorbidity. The cancer incidence rates among patients with schizophrenia were compared with the expected incidence in an age-matched and gender-matched general population sample for the same time interval.

RESULTS

Among 1247 female patients with schizophrenia, 22 (1.8%) developed breast cancer and 68 (5.5%) developed cancers of any type. Fifty-two of the 1979 male schizophrenic patients (2.6%) developed cancer. The SIRs were 0.58 (95% confidence interval [95% CI], 0.48–0.69) with a P value of < 0.05 for all cancers in the cohort, and 0.60 (95% CI, 0.37–0.90) for female breast cancer.

CONCLUSIONS

The results of the current study demonstrate a reduced risk of cancer in patients with schizophrenia. The mechanisms responsible for the lower risk need be investigated further. Cancer 2005. © 2005 American Cancer Society.