(HealthDay News) — Patients treated with adjuvant endocrine therapy for primary breast cancer have considerable symptom burden, according to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

In a prospective, observational cohort study, Patricia A. Ganz, MD, from the University of California, Los Angeles, and colleagues examined patterns of health and symptoms associated with the initiation of adjuvant endocrine therapy for primary breast cancer treatment at enrollment and 6 and 12 months later. Two-thirds of the 186 women enrolled initiated endocrine therapy (evenly split between aromatase inhibitor [AI] and tamoxifen).

The researchers found that initial physical health scores were below normative levels and improved over time; at 12 months, the score was significantly lower in the AI group (P=.05). Mental health scores were within normal range, with no between-group difference or change over time. Symptom severity was either stable or declining in the no-endocrine therapy group, while the endocrine therapy groups frequently had increased symptom severity over time. 

Compared with the no-endocrine therapy group, the AI group reported more severe musculoskeletal, hot flash, and cognitive problems at 1 or both follow-up time points, while the tamoxifen group had higher levels of hot flashes, cognitive problems, and bladder problems.

“Attention should be given to the increased symptom burden associated with [endocrine therapy], and better efforts should be made to address patient-reported outcomes,” the researchers wrote

One researcher disclosed financial ties to the biopharmaceutical industry.


  1. Ganz PA, Petersen L, Bower JE, Crespi CM. Impact of Adjuvant Endocrine Therapy on Quality of Life and Symptoms: Observational Data Over 12 Months From the Mind-Body Study. J Clin Oncol. 2016;doi:10.1200/JCO.2015.64.3866.