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Breast Cancer Message Board study finds frequent discussion of drug side effects, stopping therapy
Date:1/16/2013

ious studies have shown that nearly half of women taking AIs do not complete their recommended course of treatment, and that those who stop taking the drugs or don't take them as prescribed have a higher chance of dying of both breast cancer and other causes.

Using both quantitative and qualitative methods, the researchers analyzed 25,256 message board posts related to AIs hosted on 12 popular web sites, including breastcancer.org, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Oprah.com, and WebMD. They found that more than 18 percent of authors mentioned at least one side effect. Most commonly, patients reported joint and musculoskeletal pain, also known as arthralgia, which was mentioned by about a quarter of those who wrote about side effects; along with hot flashes and night sweats, osteoporosis, and weight gain.

Among authors who wrote about taking AIs, 12.8 percent mentioned discontinuing the drugs with no plans to take another kind, and another 28 percent mentioned switching to a different type of AI. Patients often cited severe joint pain as the reason for their discontinuation of the therapy, which is typically prescribed for several years following active treatment. A qualitative analysis of 1,000 randomly selected posts revealed that 18 percent of messages were from authors seeking advice from other message board users on how to cope with joint pain, and 27.8 percent gave advice, with about a third of those messages including tips for dealing with that side effect. Forty two percent of advice-givers recommended prescription or over-the-counter drugs for pain relief, and 44 percent mentioned herbal or mineral supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin. Thirty percent of women who gave advice reported using exercise to get relief or prevent pain from worsening. Twenty-seven percent of the advice-givers urged others to seek help from their own physicians, but only 8 percent explicitly urged others to stay on AIs.

Typical responses among those
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Contact: Holly Auer
holly.auer@uphs.upenn.edu
215-349-5659
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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