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Penn studies point to strategies for reducing painful breast cancer drug side effects
Date:9/28/2009

best to treat them."

Toxicity issues and side effects among patients taking aromatase inhibitors drugs used in post-menopausal women to prevent recurrence of breast cancer following initial treatment, by reducing the amount of estrogen the body makes lead as many as 20 percent of patients to miss prescription refills or discontinue their therapy altogether. Patients in the new study were taking aromatase inhibitors including Arimidex, Femara or Aromasin. Of the 300 patients enrolled in the study, 139 reported AI-related pain, with 75 percent of those reporting symptoms that began within the first three months of the therapy. Women most commonly had pain in their wrists, hands, and knees, though more than half said they also had pain in their backs and ankles or feet. Women who had their last menstrual period within the five years prior to beginning AIs appeared to be three times more likely to have these symptoms than women whose periods had stopped 10 or more years earlier. The authors say this finding indicates that women who entered menopause more recently may have higher levels of residual circulating estrogen in their bodies, which combined with exposure to AIs may cause a steeper, quicker drop in estrogen levels, leading to worse symptoms.

Mao and senior author Angela DeMichele, MD, MSCE, an associate professor of Medicine and Epidemiology and Biostatistics, are running a comprehensive Wellness after Breast Cancer study to examine how clinical and genetic factors relate to treatment-related symptoms such as joint pain, hot flashes, insomnia, and fatigue both during and after cancer treatment. Ultimately, they hope to identify patients at greatest risk of these symptoms and late effects of treatments, and personalize therapy in a way that will prevent the side effects of cancer therapy while maximizing the likelihood of cure.

"As modern science brings cures to many women affected by breast cancer, how to help these women to live we
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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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