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Distressing Side-Effects Of Hormone Pills In Breast Cancer

A new report published online today in the Annals of Oncology says that breast cancer patients receiving hormone treatments such as tamoxifen would prefer to take injections rather than tablets since injections //were thought o significantly curb the occurrence of hot flushes.

UK researchers surveyed nearly 200 breast cancer patients and asked them if they would prefer tablets or injections if the latter were to result in decreased occurrence of hot flushes. The researchers found that an overwhelming 60 percent of women agreed that injections would be a preferred option. Lead researcher Professor Lesley Fallowfield, who is Cancer Research UK Professor of Psychosocial Oncology at Brighton & Sussex Medical School, University of Sussex says that their findings present two messages, "The first is that the distress caused by the side-effect of the hot flushes that all endocrine treatments produce is seriously under-played. The second is that, although the assumption of many health professionals that patients generally dislike injections is correct, most patients are willing to sacrifice preference for efficacy. That information may be important if future research demonstrates a benefit for higher doses, which would necessitate injections."

She added that patients said that they preferred injections despite the inconvenience of needle pricks since injections encouraged adherence to the prescribed therapy rather than tablets. "The principle reason that women are not adhering to their breast cancer treatments is hot flushes and this affects post and pre-menopausal patients," said Professor Fallowfield. She said that a serious effort must be made to reduce the side effects of hormone tablets that are prescribed for breast cancer patients. "Personally, I would give a Nobel prize to the doctor who could eliminate hot flushes. It really is important," Professor Fallowfield concluded.

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