Hormonal Therapy Often Not Completed

NEW YORK, June 29 (UPI) — About half of U.S. breast cancer patients prescribed hormone therapy actually finished the full course of treatment, U.S. researchers found.

Dr. Dawn Hershman of Columbia University Medical Center in New York City and colleagues also found patients under age 40 had the highest discontinuation rates.

Hershman, the study leader, and the other researchers examined pharmacy records of 8,769 women diagnosed with stage I, II, or III hormone-sensitive breast cancer from 1996 to 2007 and tracked patients prescribed hormone therapy — either tamoxifen or aromatase inhibitors or both taken together.

“We were surprised to see that so many young women stopped treatment early, despite the fact that the therapy has a proven track record of reducing breast cancer recurrence,” Hershman said in a statement.

“Physicians are often unaware of patient compliance, and this is becoming an increasingly important issue in cancer.”

Hershman suggested reasons for stopping hormone therapy early may include difficulties with side effects such as joint pain, hot flashes or fatigue, the high cost of medications, or being unaware of the benefits of therapy.

The findings are published in the The Journal of Clinical Oncology

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