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What factors affect non-compliance with endocrine therapy among young women with breast cancer?

A new study from Harvard Medical School of young women with hormone receptor-positive (HR+) breast cancer showed that more than half did not believe endocrine therapy was essential, even though it has been proven to reduce recurrence and improve survival. Young women with HR+ breast cancer are at increased risk for recurrence and decreased survival, yet they are also more likely to fail to adhere to endocrine treatment as prescribed, as reported in the study published in Journal of Adolescent and Young Adult Oncology (JAYAO), a multidisciplinary peer-reviewed publication from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers. The article is available free to download on the JAYAO website until March 16, 2016.

The article “Perceptions, Attributions and Emotions Toward Endocrine Therapy in Young Women with Breast Cancer” explores whether young women’s views of endocrine therapy and the symptoms they attribute to the medication–whether tamoxifen or an aromatase inhibitor–affect their compliance with the prescribed treatment regimen.

Coauthors Hayley Walker, MD, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, Shoshana Rosenberg, ScD, MPH and Ann Partridge, Harvard Medical School and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, Annette Stanton, PhD, University of California, Los Angeles, and Keith Petrie, PhD, The University of Auckland, New Zealand, emphasize the need for better education of young women with HR+ breast cancer about the benefits of endocrine therapy and the importance of medication adherence. They also highlight the more severe burden of menopausal symptoms young women may experience and the potential impact these side effects may have on non-adherence.

“This paper address an extremely important and previously unappreciated nuance to delivering care to the young adult breast cancer population,” says Editor-in-Chief Leonard S. Sender, MD, University of California, Irvine and CHOC Children’s Hospital, Orange, CA. “Now that this is known, interventions need to be implemented and then studied to assess whether they can change the current practice.”