Men who suffer from mental health problems are more likely to succumb to cancer post-diagnosis, a new study has revealed.

According to researchers from the Wellcome Trust, the University College London (UCL), University of Southampton and the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, 23%of men with mental illness die from cancer within a year of a cancer diagnosis, compared to 9% in men with no history of mental problems.

The widespread study of nearly 17,000 men with cancer shed light into mental illness and cancer mortality.

Talking about the study’s findings, Dr David Batty from UCL said in a statement:

“Our findings show that men with mental illness at the time they are diagnosed with cancer are less likely to survive the disease than men who have no history of psychiatric disorders.

But why are men with mental illness more vulnerable to death so soon after being diagnosed with cancer?

“There may be many reasons for this: those with mental illness may be more likely to have other illnesses, they may be less likely to comply with cancer treatment, and they may be more likely to be obese and to smoke,” explains Dr. Batty.

But experts from the study believe a key reason could be down to delays in diagnosing men with mental illness early enough before it develops further.

“And this could be because men with mental illness tend to have more contact with psychiatric staff who may be less skilled at recognising cancer symptoms. It may also be that their cancer symptoms are put down to their mental illness and not picked up as quickly as they could be,” says Dr. Batty.

Martin Ledwick, head information nurse at Cancer Research UK, added: “This new study gives an interesting insight into what other factors can affect cancer survival.

“The researchers show that relatives and doctors looking after men who suffer from mental illness should keep an eye out for possible cancer symptoms. And, for those with cancer, it’s important that doctors and carers think about any extra care that these men may need.”

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