A new American study has found that women with high-risk of breast cancer are often reluctant to take the preventive drug tamoxifen.
A team at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center developed a decision aid to inform women about the risks and benefits of tamoxifen use.
The U-M decision was tailored to each woman's health history and was aimed at women who had a high possibility of developing breast cancer in the next five years.
Lead author Angela Fagerlin, and an associate professor of internal medicine at the U-M Medical School, said: "Tailored information is critical because the risks and benefits vary across women. This is one of the most detailed tailored decision aids to address breast cancer prevention. The information about the risks and benefits of tamoxifen was tailored to each woman's health history. That means, when women read this decision aid, they learned about how the drug was likely to affect them given their age, race, breast cancer history and medical history."
She added: "For any given woman, there is not a right or wrong answer in regards to whether she should take tamoxifen to prevent a first diagnosis of breast cancer. The goal of decision aids is to explain the risks and benefits in a clear way so that the woman is able to weigh these factors and make an informed decision about what is best for her."
After seeing the decision aid, 41percent of the 632 participants correctly answered six questions about the tamoxifen's advantages and disadvantages. Nearly 63 percent gave correct answers for at least five of the six questions.
Even then 29percent women said they would possibly want more information about tamoxifen, and 29percent said they would consult their their doctor about it.
Despite knowing the risks and benefits of the drug, only 6percent women said they were likely to take tamoxifen.
After three months, researchers found that less than 1percent of participants had started taking tamoxifen, and fewer than 6percent had either spoken to their doctor or sought more information about it.
Peter Ubel, senior author and professor of internal medicine and director of the Center for Behavioral and Decision Sciences in Medicine at U-M, said: "Experts have bemoaned the dearth of women taking these pills, worried that word has not gotten out about tamoxifen's ability to prevent breast cancer in high risk women. Our study shows that even when the word does get out, most women are too concerned about the pill's side effects to want to take it."
The finding of the study has been published online in the journal Breast Cancer Research and Treatment.