Five out of six women at higher risk reject drugs to prevent breast cancer

December 08, 2015

Cancer Research UK scientists have found that five in six women with increased risk of breast cancer turn down drugs likely to prevent the disease, according to research published in Annals of Oncology.

Researchers at Queen Mary University of London collected data from 26 international studies totalling more than 21,000 women of all ages who were at increased risk of developing breast cancer. The women in these studies were offered a five-year course of preventive medication to lower their risk of developing breast cancer.

Overall just one in six - 16.3 per cent - of women at higher risk chose to take the medication. Those offered the opportunity to take part in trials were more likely to use preventative medications with 25 per cent choosing it compared with nine per cent of women making the decision outside a clinical trial.

The team also examined a separate group of 18 studies looking at how likely the women were to complete a full course of drugs. The studies looked at any medication that is used for breast cancer prevention including tamoxifen and raloxifene, either as given on a clinical trial - or by a specialist, when referred by their doctor.

Of the studies that tracked women's use of preventative medications over time, most reported more than 80 per cent of women took the drugs for at least one year. But this declined over time.

Drugs to block cancer-causing hormones and surveillance with an annual mammogram may be offered to certain women with a family history of the disease when they have a moderate to high risk of breast cancer.

Study author, Dr Sam Smith, from Queen Mary University of London, said: "Our important research reveals that only a small proportion of eligible women make the decision to have preventative medication.

"It's crucial to find out why so many chose not to take the drugs - or stopped taking them before completing the course."

Mum-of-three Trish Jamieson, 62, lost her sister Noreen to breast cancer at the age of 38 in 1992. Because Trish had two close relatives who developed breast cancer when they were quite young she was considered at higher risk and signed up to the IBIS II trial designed to show whether a drug called anastrozole could prevent breast cancer in women at increased risk.

Trish finished taking the pills in March 2011. The results of the trial could help prevent thousands of women from developing breast cancer in the future.

She said: "I lost my sister to breast cancer and this meant I was also at a higher risk of developing the disease. And when I was offered anastrozole as part of the IBIS II trial I decided to take it, being eligible for the trial.

"It's not for everyone but I weighed up the pros and cons - which can include side effects - and decided it was something that I wanted to do. It's definitely a personal choice but I was glad to have been given this option."

Martin Ledwick, Cancer Research UK's head cancer information nurse, said: "We need to find out more about how women at higher risk of breast cancer make decisions about the different ways they can reduce the risk of developing the disease, to make sure that they have the information they need to make the choice that is right for them."
-end-


Cancer Research UK

Related Breast Cancer Articles from Brightsurf:

Oncotarget: IGF2 expression in breast cancer tumors and in breast cancer cells
The Oncotarget authors propose that methylation of DVDMR represents a novel epigenetic biomarker that determines the levels of IGF2 protein expression in breast cancer.

Breast cancer: AI predicts which pre-malignant breast lesions will progress to advanced cancer
New research at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, could help better determine which patients diagnosed with the pre-malignant breast cancer commonly as stage 0 are likely to progress to invasive breast cancer and therefore might benefit from additional therapy over and above surgery alone.

Partial breast irradiation effective treatment option for low-risk breast cancer
Partial breast irradiation produces similar long-term survival rates and risk for recurrence compared with whole breast irradiation for many women with low-risk, early stage breast cancer, according to new clinical data from a national clinical trial involving researchers from The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center - Arthur G.

Breast screening linked to 60 per cent lower risk of breast cancer death in first 10 years
Women who take part in breast screening have a significantly greater benefit from treatments than those who are not screened, according to a study of more than 50,000 women.

More clues revealed in link between normal breast changes and invasive breast cancer
A research team, led by investigators from Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, details how a natural and dramatic process -- changes in mammary glands to accommodate breastfeeding -- uses a molecular process believed to contribute to survival of pre-malignant breast cells.

Breast tissue tumor suppressor PTEN: A potential Achilles heel for breast cancer cells
A highly collaborative team of researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina and Ohio State University report in Nature Communications that they have identified a novel pathway for connective tissue PTEN in breast cancer cell response to radiotherapy.

Computers equal radiologists in assessing breast density and associated breast cancer risk
Automated breast-density evaluation was just as accurate in predicting women's risk of breast cancer, found and not found by mammography, as subjective evaluation done by radiologists, in a study led by researchers at UC San Francisco and Mayo Clinic.

Blood test can effectively rule out breast cancer, regardless of breast density
A new study published in PLOS ONE demonstrates that Videssa® Breast, a multi-protein biomarker blood test for breast cancer, is unaffected by breast density and can reliably rule out breast cancer in women with both dense and non-dense breast tissue.

Study shows influence of surgeons on likelihood of removal of healthy breast after breast cancer dia
Attending surgeons can have a strong influence on whether a patient undergoes contralateral prophylactic mastectomy after a diagnosis of breast cancer, according to a study published by JAMA Surgery.

Young breast cancer patients undergoing breast conserving surgery see improved prognosis
A new analysis indicates that breast cancer prognoses have improved over time in young women treated with breast conserving surgery.

Read More: Breast Cancer News and Breast Cancer Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.