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Breast Cancer Health Center

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Pain Makes Some End Breast Cancer Drug

Joint and Bone Pain Forces Some Women to Stop Taking Aromatase Inhibitors

Aromatase Inhibitors Still Drugs of Choice

Julie R. Gralow, MD, an associate professor of medical oncology at the University of Washington School of Medicine and moderator of a press briefing on the findings, says that at least for now, the findings should not deter doctors from recommending aromatase inhibitors.

"Tamoxifen is a good drug, but it also has side effects, and the aromatase inhibitors have consistently been shown to improve survival compared with tamoxifen alone," she tells WebMD.

Eric Winer, MD, a breast cancer specialist at the Dana-Farber Cancer Center in Boston, advises women who want to stop taking their pills due to aches and pains to immediately contact their doctor.

"We may be able to manage the pain with lifestyle changes or medication such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs," he tells WebMD.

Diane Young, MD, vice president of global medical affairs at Novartis Pharmaceuticals, maker of Femara, says that studies in tens of thousands of women taking Femara or other aromatase inhibitors have shown a lower risk of musculoskeletal complications than in this study.

"This is an excellent study and we definitely support research to try to better characterize side effects. But we can't say the drop-out rates are increasing as the numbers here are relatively small and follow-up is not that long," she tells WebMD.

Susan Snodgrass, MD, RPh, medical director of Pfizer Global Oncology, which makes Aromasin, says, "Side effects relative to musculoskeletal pain with aromatase therapy are a class effect, and have been well established.

"As evident through its sponsorship of this study, Pfizer is committed to patient safety and fully supports continued research regarding the side effects of Aromasin and all breast cancer treatments," she tells WebMD.

In addition to Pfizer, the National Institutes of Health, and Novartis provided funding for the study.

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