How breast cancer patients experience hormone therapy
Full article: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7430212/
Side effects from hormone therapy are a common reason that many men and women with hormone receptor-positive breast cancer stop treatment early. Some people never start hormone therapy. This study asked patients about their experiences with hormone (or endocrine) therapy. The results suggest that there may be ways to improve the number of patients who stick with therapy. Patients need better ways to manage hormone therapy-related side effects. (1/19/21)
The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) is a national panel of experts that creates guidelines for cancer treatment. NCCN recommends the following for patients diagnosed with hormone receptor-positive breast cancer:
- Consider hormone therapy for 5 years.
- Tamoxifen is recommended for premenopausal women.
- Tamoxifen or an aromatase inhibitor is recommended for postmenopausal women.
- Women who are on tamoxifen and still have a uterus should have a gynecologic exam every 12 months.
- Women who are on an aromatase inhibitor who have ovarian failure due to this medication should have bone density tests.
- Consider hormone therapy for 5 years with either tamoxifen or an aromatase inhibitor.
- Men who are on an aromatase inhibitor should also take treatment to block testosterone.
The NCCN also recommends that patients keep a copy of all their test results and medications that they currently take or have taken in the past. (Online patient portals are a great way to access test results and prescribed medications.) Having this information available can come in handy, especially if a second opinion is necessary.
The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) is a professional organization representing physicians of all oncology subspecialties who care for people with cancer. ASCO’s updated 2019 guidelines on hormone therapy for breast cancer treatment include:
- Extending hormone therapy from 5 to 10 years has ongoing risks and side effects. These should be weighed against the potential benefits of longer treatment in a shared decision-making process between the clinical team and the patient.
- Many women with node-negative breast cancer are potential candidates for and may be offered aromatase inhibitor therapy for up to 10 years.
- Women with node-positive breast cancer should be offered aromatase inhibitor therapy for up to 10 years.
- Women who receive extended hormone therapy should receive no more than 10 years of total treatment.
Questions To Ask Your Health Care Provider
- What types of side effects can I expect with hormone therapy?
- What should I do if I experience side effects from hormone therapy?
- Are there alternative treatments to hormone therapy?
- How much more benefit would I receive if I continue hormone therapy beyond the recommended 5 years?
FORCE is a national nonprofit organization, established in 1999. Our mission is to improve the lives of individuals and families affected by adult hereditary cancers.