Objectives: To examine self-reported menopausal-type symptoms among breast cancer patients on aromatase inhibitors (AIs) compared to women of the same age who had not been diagnosed with cancer, and to determine whether the percentage of breast cancer patients experiencing these symptoms changed over the first 6 months of AI treatment.
Methods: Data from a 6-month cohort study of 100 breast cancer patients initiating AI therapy and of 200 women of a similar age without a history of cancer were analyzed. At baseline (prior to the initiation of AI therapy among the breast cancer patients), 3 months, and 6 months, a comprehensive questionnaire was administered to participants that ascertained data on the experiencing of specific menopausal-type symptoms.
Results: The data showed statistically significant increases in the prevalence of certain symptoms from baseline to either follow-up point among the breast cancer patients; these symptoms included hot flushes, night sweats, pain during intercourse, hair loss, forgetfulness, depression, difficulty falling asleep, and interrupted sleep. Additionally, breast cancer patients were more likely than the women in the comparison group to report the new onset of many of these same symptoms during the follow-up time period.
Conclusions: Because bothersome symptoms and side-effects are a major reason for discontinuation and non-adherence to treatment, symptoms should be monitored and addressed by oncologists so that the breast cancer patient can maintain her quality of life and remain adherent to the treatment schedule.