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Women resist breast cancer prevention drug

Monday December 3rd, 2018

Women identified as being at high risk of breast cancer are strongly resistant to taking preventative treatments, according to an analysis published today.

A British-based analysis found that just a fifth of women at high risk thought they needed to take tamoxifen. And just 15% were taking the drug.

A survey of 400 women identified at 20 UK centres found that 72% were worried about the long-term effects of the drug.

There were also general concerns about taking drugs. Some 29% believed that doctors prescribe too many medicines while 24% had experienced bad reactions to medicines.

The findings are published today in the journal Clinical Breast Cancer.

Researcher Dr Samuel Smith, from the University of Leeds, said: “Women in our study were rightfully considering the potential harms and benefits of using preventive therapy. But some beliefs about the use of medicine were very negative. This appears to be putting some women off tamoxifen, despite its proven ability to help prevent breast cancer in the long term.

“We need to make sure health care professionals are adequately equipped to discuss the potential benefits and harms of preventive treatment with their patients so that women are well informed before deciding whether or not to take a drug.”

Dr Julie Sharp, from Cancer Research UK, added: “It’s understandable that women considering taking a new medicine might have some concerns and that for some, it won’t be the right option. There are some potential side effects with tamoxifen, and other medications that can help prevent cancer, but it’s vital that women have all the information so they can make the best choice for them.”

Beliefs about medication and uptake of preventive therapy in women at increased risk of breast cancer: Results from a multi-centre prospective study. Clinical Breast Cancer 3 December 2018; doi:10.1016/j.clbc.2018.10.008

Tags: Cancer | Pharmaceuticals | Women's Health & Gynaecology

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