Oncology Central

Only one in six high-risk women opt to receive breast cancer chemoprevention

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An analysis of data from 26 international studies has determined that five in six women with an increased risk of breast cancer do not accept an offered 5-year course of preventive medication to lower their risk of developing the disease. Details of the analysis, carried out by researchers at Queen Mary University of London (UK), were published yesterday in Annals of Oncology.

The incorporation of data from these studies left the investigators with information regarding in excess of 21,000 women of all ages who were at increased risk of developing breast cancer. They concluded that only one in six, or 16.3 %, of these women chose to take preventive medicine. They also determined that women taking part in clinical trials were more likely to take preventative medications; uptake in this group was 25 %, compared with just 9% uptake among women not involved in any trial.

A further analysis of 18 studies that aimed to determine the likelihood of women completing the course of preventative medication following uptake was also carried out. Of the studies that tracked adherence to preventative medications over time, most reported that in excess of 80 % of women took the drugs for at least 1 year, but this was observed to decline over time.

Sam Smith, study author of Queen Mary University of London commented: “Our important research reveals that only a small proportion of eligible women make the decision to have preventative medication. It’s crucial to find out why so many chose not to take the drugs – or stopped taking them before completing the course.”

Source: Cancer Research UK press release

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