University of Leeds | April 2018 |Women at increased cancer risk shun preventative tamoxifen therapy
A study published in Breast Cancer Research and Treatment shows that only 1 in 7 women who were offered Tamoxifen due to a familial history of cancer decided to take it. This new research sought to highlight that women eligible to take the drug were electing not to, it also aimed to explore the reasons behind such decisions. Researchers also found that patients consulted informal networks such as friends and family before making a decision about whether to take Tamoxifen (via University of Leeds) .
Whether the participants had children also had an impact on the decision, the scientists found those with children were more likely to take the drug. One participant explained that taking the drug might affect her ability to care for her children and parents, so decided not to take it.
The study was conducted in collaboration with scientists at the University Hospitals Southampton, University College London, Queen Mary University, University of Leeds and Northwestern University. The research was funded by Cancer Research UK and Yorkshire Cancer Research.
Purpose Uptake of preventive therapy for women at increased breast cancer risk in England is unknown following the introduction of UK clinical guidelines in 2013. Preventive therapy could create socioeconomic inequalities in cancer incidence if it is more readily accepted by particular socio-demographic groups. In this multicentre study, we investigated uptake of tamoxifen and evaluated socio-demographic and clinical factors associated with initiation. We explored women’s experiences of treatment decision-making using qualitative interview data.
Methods Between September 2015 and December 2016, women (n=732) attending an appointment at one of 20 centres in England to discuss breast cancer risk were approached to complete a survey containing socio-demographic details and nul-
liparity. Of the baseline survey respondents (n equal to 408/732, 55.7% response rate), self-reported uptake of tamoxifen at 3-month follow-up was reported in 258 (63.2%). Sixteen women participated in semi-structured interviews.
Results One in seven (38/258=14.7%) women initiated tamoxifen. Women who had children were more likely to report use of tamoxifen than those without children (OR=5.26; 95%CI: 1.13–24.49, p=0.035). Interview data suggested that women weigh up risks and benefits of tamoxifen within the context of familial commitments, with exposure to significant other’s beliefs and experiences of cancer and medication a basis for their decision.
Conclusions Uptake of tamoxifen is low in clinical practice. There were no socio-demographic differences in uptake, suggesting that the introduction of breast cancer preventive therapy is unlikely to create socioeconomic inequalities in cancer incidence. Women’s decision-making was influenced by familial priorities, particularly having children.
The full article can be downloaded here