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Genetic differences may influence joint pain among women taking lifesaving breast cancer drugs
Date:6/1/2010

genetic differences, women respond differently to aromatase inhibitors with regard to estrogen levels and inflammatory processes, and as a result, some women are more likely to have this pain or have more severe pain," says Angela DeMichele, MD, MSCE, an associate professor of Hematology/Oncology and Epidemiology and Biostatistics, and a co-author on all three of the studies. "There are millions of women receiving AIs, as many as 50 percent of them experience some level of arthralgia, and up to 10 percent discontinue their treatment prematurely, so this is a significant issue."

The investigators say that as more breast cancer patients become breast cancer survivors, clinicians must become more knowledgeable about the quality of life issues impacting women after they end active treatment for their cancers. The new findings are key to identifying which women may be at risk of problems like arthralgia and then, Mao says, to developing more targeted interventions at both the physical and psychological levels.

The multidisciplinary team is also looking at issues related to clinician-patient communication, exercise, and co-factors such as arthritis or fibromyalgia that can increase pain and disability in order to keep more women on their treatment regimen. Mao, who is also a licensed physician acupuncturist, has begun a clinical trial examining the effectiveness of acupuncture for aromatase inhibitor associated arthralgia as part of conventional breast cancer survivorship care. These efforts are part of the Abramson Cancer Center's comprehensive Wellness After Breast Cancer program.

"We believe that proactively informing women about the possibility that their breast cancer treatment may cause arthralgia and then intervening early is probably important to keeping them on these potentially life-saving cancer treatments," Mao says. "When they are not prepared, or become frustrated because they didn't know this could happen to them, they are far m
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Contact: Kim Guenther
kim.guenther@uphs.upenn.edu
215-200-2312
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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