However, when presented with a hypothetical situation that injections would result in fewer hot flushes the choices reversed with those opting for tablets slumping to around 27% and those preferring injections soaring to around 60%.
The proportion that would opt for injections also rose to nearly three-quarters when they were given a hypothetical situation where a monthly double injection would control the cancer better. Only a fifth in this case would prefer daily tablets.
The research is published on-line (Thursday 20 October) in Annals of Oncology. It involved 208 women with early or advanced breast cancer from different parts of the UK, who had been diagnosed at least two years before.
"These findings provide two potentially important messages," said lead researcher Professor Lesley Fallowfield, "The first is that the distress caused by the side-effect of the hot flushes that all endocrine treatments produce is seriously under-played. The second is that, although the assumption of many health professionals that patients generally dislike injections is correct, most patients are willing to sacrifice preference for efficacy. That information may be important if future research demonstrates a benefit for higher doses, which would necessitate injections."
Professor Fallowfield, who is Cancer Research UK Professor of Psychosocial Oncology at Brighton & Sussex Medical School, University of Sussex, said that patients' concerns or preferences about treatment are rarely explored and the views of healthcare professionals varied widely. She found some findings unexpected.