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Fewer than half of breast cancer patients adhere to hormonal therapy regimen, study finds
Date:6/28/2010

hose who did not stop, only 72 percent finished on schedule (meaning they took their medication more than 80 percent of the time).

They found that in women younger than 40 and older than 75, those who had lumpectomy as opposed to mastectomy and those with other medical illnesses were more likely to discontinue hormonal therapy early. Asian/Pacific Islander ethnicity, a history of prior chemotherapy, being married and longer prescription refill intervals were associated with completing 4.5 years of hormonal therapy. Longer refill intervals meant fewer chances to not refill prescriptions.

"Physicians are often unaware of patient compliance, and this is becoming an increasingly important issue in cancer," Dr. Hershman said. "It's very disturbing that patients under 40 had the highest discontinuation and non-adherence rates, because those patients have the longest life expectancy. If we can better understand the issues surrounding compliance with hormonal therapy, this might help us understand why patients don't adhere to other treatments that are moving out of the clinic and into the home, such as oral chemotherapy, as often as we would like."

She added that there are several possible reasons for halting therapy early, noting that 13 percent of the women delayed getting their first prescription refilled. These factors can include the side effects of the therapy, such as joint pain, hot flashes or fatigue, a lack of understanding of the benefit of the therapy, and high costs of medications and/or insurance co-payments.

ASCO Perspective

Jennifer Obel, MD, member of ASCO's Cancer Communications Committee

"This new study reaffirms some worrisome trends for women completing hormonal therapy, and brings up the larger issue of non-compliance for cancer therapies in general. As we increasingly move treatments out of the clinic and into the home we now have more than 50 oral chemotherapy medications complianc
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Contact: Elizabeth Streich
eas2125@columbia.edu
212-305-6535
Columbia University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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