Hormonal therapy for breast cancer can also increase risk of developing chronic conditions

In In The News by Barbara Jacoby

By: Elisa Black

From: news.com.au

WOMEN who receive hormonal therapy for breast cancer are at increased risk of developing chronic conditions later in life.

New research by Flinders University and the University of South Australia, published in the Medical Journal of Australia yesterday, found that rates of depression, osteoporosis, diabetes, cardiovascular conditions, chronic pain and gastric disorders were higher among breast cancer survivors who had received hormonal cancer treatment than among those without breast cancer.

But researchers stressed that the causal mechanisms — whether it is other common breast cancer treatments like surgery and chemotherapy or even the cancer itself — could not be completely identified yet. Hormonal therapy, also known as endocrine therapy, is used to reduce the risk of cancer recurrence for 70 per cent of breast cancers in Australia.

It is typically administered after surgery or chemotherapy, and/or radiation.

Flinders University professor and study co-researcher Bogda Koczwara said knowing that hormonal therapy may predispose women to developing chronic illnesses meant clinicians had the chance to develop effective, long-term care models for these patients.

“Developing the strategies and tools to manage coexisting chronic conditions after breast cancer should now be an essential part of every patient’s overall treatment plan,’’ she said.

“Our study clearly found that chronic illnesses developed more frequently in women with breast cancer than in those without breast cancer.

“The good news is that most women diagnosed with breast cancer in Australia can be cured and we now have a way of using routine data to monitor the risk of chronic disease after cancer.”

Originally published as Hormone therapy could raise chronic illness risk