Tamoxifen is prescribed after breast cancer to reduce the risk of relapse. According to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, one in six women (16%) does not follow the medical prescription after only one year of treatment.
Tamoxifen is a hormone therapy indicated for five to ten years after so-called hormone-sensitive breast cancer (80% of breast cancers), that is, for which there are hormone receptors on cancer cells. ” The Hormone therapy, which can cause varying side effects, especially menopausal symptoms, is unfortunately not always followed by women, even if it penalizes them. This can indeed increase the risk relapse and death Regrets Barbara Pistilli, an oncologist with Gustave Roussy.
In addition to a significant link between not using the drug and the risk of relapse, the study is interesting in that it also identifies the profiles of women likely to discontinue treatment, however essential. These are women more prone to side effects (fatigue, muscle and joint pain), who more often live alone or have other health problems.
In addition, “The fact that you have been treated with chemotherapy causes fatigue and this seems to hinder the regular intake of hormone treatment. Paradoxically, not having chemotherapy – indicated to reduce the risk of recurrence – also seems to decrease adherence ”, analyzes dr. Pistilli.
This study is based on the analysis of a cohort (CANTO) of 1,177 premenopausal women treated for localized breast cancer. During their hormone therapy, biological blood tests of the drug were conducted several times, in addition to a questionnaire for conformity. “We see a great dissociation between what these women dare to tell us and the reality. We need to be able to understand why, in order to offer them better adapted help and a more personal approach.. It is important to change the way we treat these patients to improve their adherence Says Dr. Inès Vaz-Luis.
The doctors who conducted this study hope to develop solutions to improve the quality of life after breast cancer while preserving the risk of relapse.
Source: “Young women relapse more from breast cancer when they stop hormone therapy in the first year”, Inserm, June 23, 2020.