Adjuvant chemotherapy for breast cancer in patients with schizophrenia

Mark Hwang, Mishel Farasatpour, Campbell D. Williams, Julie A. Margenthaler, Katherine S. Virgo, Frank E. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


The outcomes of treatment of physical illnesses are strongly affected by the presence of schizophrenia. We aimed to quantify the clinical course of schizophrenic breast cancer patients who were eligible for adjuvant chemotherapy to determine whether patients with this mental illness receive appropriate treatment for this physical illness. We searched the national Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) computer database using computer codes for schizophrenia to identify patients who later developed breast cancer and were treated in DVA medical centers. Computer-based data were supplemented with chart-based clinical indicators. There were 55 subjects who appeared to be appropriate candidates for adjuvant systemic therapy. A number of these candidates were not offered postoperative endocrine or cytotoxic chemotherapy, while others refused treatment or were non-compliant. Behaviors typical of schizophrenic subjects, including hostility to caregivers, often disrupt their care. Schizophrenic patients often have advanced-stage cancer at diagnosis, often delay diagnosis and are frequently hostile towards healthcare workers. Many of these patients refuse therapy and/or are non-compliant.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)845-850
Number of pages6
JournalOncology Letters
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2012


  • Adjuvant chemotherapy
  • Breast cancer diagnosis
  • Breast cancer treatment
  • Schizophrenia


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