Side Effects Different From Women
Researchers analyzed the medical records of 64 male breast cancer patients treated at MD Anderson between 1999 and 2009. Diagnoses included stages I, II and III. Patients received tamoxifen for an average of four years.
More than half (53 percent) had one or more drug-related side effect. The top two complaints were weight gain (22 percent) and sexual dysfunction (22 percent). Twenty percent of men stopped taking the drug prematurely because of adverse effects. Of 13 men who discontinued tamoxifen early, four were directed by physicians to stop for medical reasons.
Pemmaraju says men seem to experience different side effects than women, probably because their hormonal environment is different. For example, men have lower levels of estrogen and higher levels of testosterone.
After adjusting for patient age and disease stage, researchers found the outlook for men with breast cancer who take tamoxifen is similar to that of women.
Awareness, Discussion Are Key
Pemmaraju said the study shouldn't change the practice of prescribing tamoxifen for men, but he suggests doctors may want to counsel patients about the side effects and the benefits of continuing the medication.
"I hope this study will help raise awareness in patients and physicians, generate discussion about the side effects and begin to tease out details of why treatment is discontinued," he said.
Further Study Needed
Pemmaraju said the study shows the need for future research to help understand the problems and benefits of tamoxifen.
"It would be valuable to prospectively assess male breast cancer patients and collect data on them at the start of tamoxifen therapy and then follow them through the years to get a better sense side effects and tolerab
|Contact: Laura Sussman|
University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center