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Breast Cancer
Breast Cancer Treatment Options

Mistaking Breast Cancer Symptoms for Side Effects of Tamoxifen May Be Keeping Some Women from Taking the Preventive Drug

Co-author Dr. Samuel Smith, Cancer Research UK Fellow and University Academic Fellow at the University of Leeds, said, “The fact that there was a relationship between reporting symptoms and non-adherence among women in the placebo group shows that behaviour is being affected by the symptoms, but these symptoms clearly could not have been caused by the drug because it was a placebo.”

Better communication with women is important, say the researchers. “Communicating accurate information on side effects to patients, and highlighting that some naturally-occurring symptoms may occur during the course of therapy, could be a useful approach in encouraging adherence. This is particularly important for women who are expected to experience the menopause while taking preventive therapy,” said Dr .Sestak. “These discussions may encourage more realistic expectations of the likelihood of experiencing side effects.”

Dr Smith said, “Intervention strategies that help to communicate effectively the harms and benefits of preventive therapy to patients need to be developed. At present interventions that help to improve adherence to medications are few and far between. So we are considering ways to intervene with these patients to ensure the safe and appropriate use of preventive therapy. We are also planning a secondary analysis of the IBIS-II trial, which looked at another anti-cancer drug, anastrazole, versus placebo, to see if the same effects are observed in a separate group of women.”