Background Schizophrenia affects approximately 1% of subjects in all populations studied thus far. We sought to evaluate how patients with schizophrenia who are later diagnosed with breast cancer fare when adjuvant radiation therapy (ART) is clinically indicated. Methods We searched patient treatment file, the national inpatient computer database of the Department of Veterans Affairs, to identify patients with schizophrenia who subsequently developed breast cancer. Results Forty patients had schizophrenia, who later developed breast cancer and were candidates for ART, according to well-established guidelines. Of the 40 patients who were considered candidates for ART, we found data about the decision to offer ART in 35; only 22 (63%) were offered ART and 5 of those 22 (23%) refused it. Conclusions Patients with schizophrenia and breast cancer often do not understand the nature of their illnesses well. They often do not comply with recommended standard therapies such as ART. Treatment strategies that rely on ART are likely to be met with noncompliance. Breast-preserving treatment plans may be impractical. Initial radical surgery without ART may be preferable.
- Adjuvant radiation therapy
- Keywords Breast cancer