A new study found that just 1 in 5 women who have severe mental illnesses get screened for cervical cancers
The study was comprised of data from the California’s Medicaid records from 2010-2011. Illnesses like schizophrenia, severe depression, bipolar disorder and other anxiety disorders were classified as severe mental illnesses.
“The results of this very large study indicate that we need to better prioritize cervical cancer screening for these high-risk women with severe mental illnesses,” stated study senior author Dr. Christina Mangurian, an associate professor of clinical psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco, according to Medline Plus.
According to the CDC, cervical cancers are both highly treatable when found and highly preventable, through vaccines like the HPV vaccine. Pap smears, a test that can be done during a routine OB/GYN visit, is recommended for women between the ages of 21 and 65 years old.
The study found that women with severe mental illnesses around that age group, specifically between 18 and 27, were less likely to be screened for cervical cancers. According to Medline Plus, the rate of less testing among women with severe mental illnesses was especially relevant because women with these mental illnesses are more at risk.
“Higher rates of smoking and an increased number of sexual partners are among the reasons why,” women with severe mental illnesses are more at risk, explained Mangurian to Medline Plus.