How patients experience endocrine therapy for breast cancer: an online survey of side effects, adherence, and medical team support.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

PURPOSE: Many patients with hormone receptor-positive (HR+) breast cancer do not adhere to endocrine therapy (ET), and treatment-related side effects are often discussed by participants in online breast cancer forums. Our aim was to survey this unique group of patients about their ET-related experiences. METHODS: We partnered with patients active in breast cancer social media communities to develop a survey assessing ET-related side effects and medical team communication. Patients with a history of HR+ breast cancer who had received a recommendation to take ET were eligible to participate in the anonymous, online survey. RESULTS: Respondents included 2353 women and 54 men. Aromatase inhibitors were the most commonly used medication. Side effects were reported by 91.2%, were more often experienced by women than men (p < 0.001), and were primarily related to medication type. Approximately one-third of respondents discontinued therapy early. While most felt supported by their medical team, 31.5% reported that their side effects were dismissed or minimized. Survey respondents most frequently reported that a healthy diet and exercise, yoga/acupuncture, and vitamins/supplements were helpful in managing ET-related side effects. CONCLUSIONS: ET-related side effects are very common, and one-third discontinued treatment early. Lifestyle changes and complementary therapies can be important tools for side effect management. One-third of patients did not feel that their side effects were taken seriously. IMPLICATIONS FOR CANCER SURVIVORS: This is the largest survey of ET use by participants in online breast cancer communities. Further research is needed to identify strategies to improve treatment adherence and to better manage ET-related side effects.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Berkowitz, MJ; Thompson, CK; Zibecchi, LT; Lee, MK; Streja, E; Berkowitz, JS; Wenziger, CM; Baker, JL; DiNome, ML; Attai, DJ

Published Date

  • February 2021

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 15 / 1

Start / End Page

  • 29 - 39

PubMed ID

  • 32804353

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC7430212

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1932-2267

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1007/s11764-020-00908-5


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States