A recent study from Swedish researchers found that women with mental illnesses have a risk for cervical cancer that is twice as high as those without mental illness. The research also showed that women with neuropsychiatric disability or substance abuse were less likely to get screening tests that can detect cervical cancer. The study included over 4 million women born between 1940 and 1995, where researchers calculated their risk of cervical cancer and precancerous cervical lesions, as well as women’s participation in screening programs.

Impact of Mental Illness on Cervical Cancer Risk

Women with mental illness, substance abuse or neuropsychiatric disability have an increased risk of developing cervical cancer. The risk is most elevated with substance abuse, according to the study. The study also showed that women with these diagnoses were less likely to participate in screening programs, making it more difficult to detect cervical cancer at an early stage.

Importance of Cervical Cancer Screening for Women with Mental Illness

The World Health Organization has set a goal of screening 70% of women for cervical cancer at least once before age 35 and twice before age 45. However, unequal care is a major obstacle to reaching this goal. Women with mental illness should be made more aware of the need for regular screening to lower their risk of developing cervical cancer. Health care professionals should also be more aware of the cancer risk in these patients and consider stepping up preventative measures to potentially underserved patients.