Less cancer, more deaths with mental illness

PATIENTS using specialist mental health services are less likely to be diagnosed with cancer than the general population but more likely to die from the disease, a conference has been told.

Research presented to the Public Health Association of Australia conference in Brisbane last week showed that cancer incidence was lower in people under psychiatric care but these individuals had a 41% increased risk of mortality.

Lifestyle factors such as smoking, alcohol consumption and diet could not by themselves explain the difference, the researchers said.

Instead, the data showed that patients with more severe mental illnesses who were diagnosed with cancer were more likely than the general population to develop metastases within a year and less likely to access timely surgery.

“People may be presenting later and presenting with more advanced disease,” Professor Steve Kisely, a psychiatrist and public health physician from the