Breast Cancer: The Effect of Side Effects

Breast cancer treatment tied to severe side effects in many patients

(RxWiki News) Around half of women undergoing treatment for early stage breast cancer reported severe side effects, according to a new study.

And that includes around one-third of women who weren't receiving chemotherapy, which is known for its often harsh side effects. 

These severe side effects were tied to more doctor and emergency room visits, reduced dosages and delayed treatments, this study found.

"It's in patients' best interest to receive their treatments on time and on schedule, whenever possible, to give them the best possible outcome," said study author Dr. Steven J. Katz, a professor at the University of Michigan, in a press release. "Unscheduled care for toxicities — including clinic visits, emergency department visits and hospital stays — are expensive, inconvenient and disruptive to both doctors and patients. We need to avoid them whenever possible."

Of the 1,945 women surveyed for this study, 93 percent said they experienced at least one side effect, this study found. Forty-five percent rated a side effect as severe or very severe. Side effects included breast skin irritation, shortness of breath, arm swelling, pain, constipation, diarrhea, and nausea or vomiting.

This study had several limitations including the fact that side effects were reported by the patient and the researchers did not have access to medical records. As a result, the researchers could not verify the details of the cancer treatment.

The researchers behind this study said oncologists should be sure to give information about potential breast cancer treatment side effects to their patients.

This study was published in the journal Cancer.

The National Cancer Institute funded this research. No potential conflicts of interest relevant to this study were noted by the authors.