About Careers MedBlog Contact us

Underuse of Adjuvant Endocrine Therapy for Hormone-Sensitive Breast Cancer

by Dr. Trupti Shirole on February 7, 2017 at 6:28 AM
Font : A-A+

 Underuse of Adjuvant Endocrine Therapy for Hormone-Sensitive Breast Cancer

Adjuvant endocrine therapy (ATE) - hormone-blocking drugs such as tamoxifen or aromatase inhibitors that can lower the odds of cancer coming back - is associated with a 29% reduction in the risk of death for women with hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer.

A nationwide cancer registry of almost one million patients treated for hormone-sensitive breast cancer shows that one out of six women who should have received this post-surgical treatment did not get this recommended component of care.


The study authors estimate that 14,630 women who did not get hormone treatment died unnecessarily between 2004 and 2013 from recurrence of their cancers.

Adherence to the guidelines for AET after surgery slowly improved over the period studied. By the end of the study, however, 18% of women who could have benefited were still not getting potentially life-saving care. The researchers also found that about 3% of women who lacked hormone receptors were inappropriately treated with AET.

"The use of adjuvant endocrine therapy slowly gained popularity over this time," said study senior author Dezheng Huo, associate professor of public health sciences at the University of Chicago. "It improved after 2004, rising from 70% in 2004 to almost 84% in 2011. Then it declined slightly to 82% in 2013, when the study ended."

"Our results suggest that it is still underused," Huo said, "and in some cases, misused, offered to patients who lack hormone receptors."

The study, published in JAMA Oncology, used data from the National Cancer Data Base (NCDB), which is supported by the American College of Surgeons and the American Cancer Society. The NCDB collects information about cancer patients, treatments and outcomes from more than 1,500 accredited healthcare facilities.

The authors found data from more than two million patients who were diagnosed with breast cancer between 2004 and 2013. They narrowed that down to women at least 18 years old who had stage-1, 2 or 3 breast cancer, treated with lumpectomy or mastectomy, usually followed by radiation and, less often, chemotherapy. The women had to express estrogen or progesterone receptors. They wound up with records from 818,435 patients, who met the criteria and were likely to benefit.

AET slows or stops the growth of tumors that feed on these hormones. Drugs such as tamoxifen, for example, attach to the estrogen receptor in a cancer cell and shut down the hormone's cancer-causing effects. Patients are encouraged to take the pills, one a day, for 10 years or longer.

Compliance with AET guidelines in this study varied from hospital to hospital. The researchers selected 80% compliance with the guidelines as a reasonable goal for individual hospitals. They found that in 2004, only 40% of hospitals met that standard. By 2013, almost 70% of hospitals were reaching the 80% standard.

"Still, 30% of hospitals were falling short," Huo said.

Several factors influence compliance. Hormone therapy does have side effects, such as hot flashes or nausea. Patients taking tamoxifen have an increased risk of stroke. Those taking aromatase inhibitors have an increased risk of osteoporosis.

Since there is no immediately detectable benefit from AET, some breast cancer patients choose not to take hormone therapy. Others begin therapy but lapse over time. Smaller studies found that 30 to 70% of patients discontinue AET within five years.

Patients treated with surgery followed by radiation or chemotherapy were more likely to stick with AET. Women treated at larger hospitals, with 400 beds or more, were more compliant.

There were also racial disparities. Black and Hispanic women are less likely than non-Hispanic whites to receive AET. Asian women are more likely to receive AET.

Hospitals in certain geographic regions had better success. Those in New England and the upper Midwest achieved compliance rates seven to 12% higher than those in the South and West.

The authors stress that their data has limitations. Previous studies suggest that adjuvant endocrine therapy may be under-reported, in some cases by as much as 10%.

On the whole, however, the researchers note that although AET use has been steadily increasing. optimal usage, according to Huo, "has not been achieved." Because of these gaps, "certain women are being deprived of this life-saving therapy."

Source: Eurekalert

News A-Z
What's New on Medindia
Test  Your Knowledge on Heart
Test Your Knowlege on Genes
Obesity in Teens Make Inroads into Early Atrial Fibrillation
View all
Recommended Reading
News Archive
News Category

Medindia Newsletters Subscribe to our Free Newsletters!
Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.

More News on:
Women and Cancer Breast Biopsy Pagets disease of the breast Mastitis Cancer and Homeopathy Pheromones Reiki and Pranic Healing Breast Cancer Facts Cancer Facts Cancer 

Most Popular on Medindia

Color Blindness Calculator Find a Hospital Daily Calorie Requirements Iron Intake Calculator Hearing Loss Calculator Drug Side Effects Calculator How to Reduce School Bag Weight - Simple Tips Vent Forte (Theophylline) Accident and Trauma Care Blood - Sugar Chart
This site uses cookies to deliver our services. By using our site, you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Cookie Policy, Privacy Policy, and our Terms of Use

Underuse of Adjuvant Endocrine Therapy for Hormone-Sensitive Breast Cancer Personalised Printable Document (PDF)

Please complete this form and we'll send you a personalised information that is requested

You may use this for your own reference or forward it to your friends.

Please use the information prudently. If you are not a medical doctor please remember to consult your healthcare provider as this information is not a substitute for professional advice.

Name *

Email Address *

Country *

Areas of Interests