Breast cancer drug warning

More than 400 lives and £30 million a year could be saved if breast cancer patients completed their full course of a drug that causes unpleasant side effects, according to researchers at the University of Glasgow.

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Half a million face illness 'due to cancer treatment'

Like many forms of cancer treatment, tamoxifen can often have debilitating side effects. Unfortunately, suffering from severe side effects of treatment is not exclusive to breast cancer patients.

Macmillan estimates that at least half a million cancer survivors in the UK currently face disability and poor health due to their illness and its treatment.

– Lesley Smith from Macmillan Cancer Support

Doctor: Tamoxifen benefits 'both patient and NHS'

Colin McCowan, from the University of Glasgow, and his team analysed prescription records for 1,263 women with breast cancer to see how often they took Tamoxifen and for how long.

Dr McCowan hoped the findings could be used to develop "interventions" to help patients "get the most" from the drug.

High adherence to tamoxifen would seem to benefit both the patient and the NHS.

We want to raise awareness among healthcare professionals that this is a real issue...

We do know that side effects of this treatment are an issue and we are currently analysing interviews with women to investigate reasons why they do or don't take their medication and other issues around adherence.

We hope to use these findings to develop interventions to help women and the NHS to get the most from the life-saving drugs that we already have.

– Dr Colin McCowan, from the University of Glasgow

More support needed to take breast cancer drug

Women who risk a recurrence of breast cancer by abandoning their prescribed medication need more support so they can continue taking it, according to a health chief.

Baroness Delyth Morgan, chief executive of Breast Cancer Campaign, which has funded a study into the drug Tamoxifen said:

Tamoxifen is one of the most effective treatments for breast cancer when taken as prescribed but sadly some women find it intolerable to take the full five-year course and risk recurrence of their disease.

This study is a timely reminder that it's so important that women are given support to continue taking their tamoxifen so that they have the best possible chance to outlive breast cancer.

– Chief executive of Breast Cancer Campaign, Baroness Delyth Morgan

Tamoxifen prescribed to 13,000 women a year

The breast cancer drug Tamoxifen is prescribed to around 13,000 women per year in the UK. Researchers have warned about the negative effects of patients failing to complete the full course of medication.

  • Patients are typically prescribed a five-year course
  • The drug is to be taken once a day
  • Usually prescribed after surgery, radiotherapy and any chemotherapy
  • Side effects include hot flushes, joint pain, fatigue, weight gain and sweats
  • Rarer side effects include blood clots

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Breast cancer patients urged to finish course of drugs

More than 400 lives and £30 million a year could be saved if breast cancer patients completed their full course of a drug that causes unpleasant side effects, according to new research.

Breast cancer patients are prescribed Tamoxifen, but it has a range of unpleasant side effects
Breast cancer patients are prescribed Tamoxifen, but it has a range of unpleasant side effects

Women who fail to take Tamoxifen for the full five years have a higher chance of their cancer coming back and suffering an early death.

The findings are based on records for 1,263 women with breast cancer that were analysed by a team at the University of Glasgow.

Tamoxifen is prescribed to around 13,000 women a year, usually after surgery, radiotherapy and any chemotherapy. Side effects include hot flushes, joint pain, fatigue, weight gain and sweats.