Young breast cancer patients more likely to discontinue hormone therapy
March 22, 2016
"Physicians are often unaware of patient compliance, and this is becoming an increasingly important issue in cancer," Dr. Hershman said. "It's very disturbing that patients under 40 had the highest discontinuation and non-adherence rates, because those patients have the longest life expectancy. If we can better understand the issues surrounding compliance with hormonal therapy, this might help us understand why patients don't adhere to other treatments that are moving out of the clinic and into the home, such as oral chemotherapy, as often as we would like."
She added that there are several possible reasons for halting therapy early, noting that 13 percent of the women delayed getting their first prescription refilled. These factors can include the side effects of the therapy, such as joint pain, hot flashes or fatigue, a lack of understanding of the benefit of the therapy, and high costs of medications and/or insurance co-payments.
Jennifer Obel, MD, member of ASCO's Cancer Communications Committee
"This new study reaffirms some worrisome trends for women completing hormonal therapy, and brings up the larger issue of non-compliance for cancer therapies in general. As we increasingly move treatments out of the clinic and into the home - we now have more than 50 oral chemotherapy medications - compliance has become a significant problem that hasn't been addressed very well. Patients tend to underestimate side effects and under-report events that happen between clinic visits. We need to identify reasons why patients don't take their drugs before we can find ways to reverse this trend."
Source: Columbia University Medical Center