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New report highlights aromatase inhibitor side effects

Breast Cancer Action (BCA) released a report today, in conjunction with a poster presentation at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium (Abstract #3131), on the side effects of aromatase inhibitors (AIs). The report, "Side Effects Revealed: Womens Experiences with Aromatase Inhibitors," analyzes 612 womens responses to an online survey of the drugs side effects. (Call or e-mail for an embargoed copy of the report. After December 15, the full report and comments from survey respondents will be online at www.bcaction.org/AIreport.)

Survey results show that nearly all respondents (96 percent) reported one or more side effects. Nearly 30 percent of the respondents reported discontinuing the use of an AI--84 percent because of intolerable side effects and close to half of them (47 percent) due to joint-related problems. The side effects reported by more than half of the survey respondents were: hot flashes, bone pain, feeling tired, muscle pain, and insomnia. Many respondents also reported experiencing joint-related side effects, vaginal atrophy and dryness, a rise in cholesterol levels, and general pain.

More than a quarter of respondents (37 percent) reported receiving no information from their doctors about short-term side effects. Over half (63 percent) reported receiving no information from their doctors about long-term effects, but because AIs are relatively new, little long-term side effect data is available.

"The results of the survey clearly indicate that patients deciding whether or not to take these drugs need to be fully informed about the side effects and whether the use of an AI is actually appropriate for them," said Marilyn Zivian, Ph.D., lead author of the report. "Its very apparent that some of the women who responded to the survey are really suffering."

"Patients know about side effects before their doctors do--they experience them firsthand," said Barbara Bren
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Contact: Rebecca Farmer
rfarmer@bcaction.org
415-243-9301
Breast Cancer Action
15-Dec-2006


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