PARIS, Oct. 9, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Analysis of the CANTO cohort published in the journal Annals of Oncology will upset received wisdom on the effects that hormone therapy and chemotherapy have on the quality of life in women with breast cancer. Contrary to the commonly held view, 2 years after diagnosis, hormone therapy, a highly effective breast cancer treatment worsens quality of life to a greater extent and for a longer time, especially in menopausal patients. The deleterious effects of chemotherapy are more transient. Given that current international guidelines recommend the prescription of hormone therapy for 5 to 10 years, it is important to offer treatment to women who develop severe symptoms due to hormone antagonist medication and to identify those who might benefit from less prolonged or intensive treatment strategies.
This work was directed by Dr Inès Vaz-Luis, specialist breast cancer oncologist and researcher at Gustave Roussy in the lab "Predictive Biomarkers and Novel Therapeutic Strategies in Oncology" (Inserm/Université Paris-Sud/Gustave Roussy).
"This analysis of the CANTO cohort shows for the first time that anti-hormonal treatments do not have lesser effects than chemotherapy on women's quality of life. Quite the contrary, as the diminution in quality of life which is noted at diagnosis is still present two years later, whereas the impact of chemotherapy is more temporary," explained Dr Vaz-Luis.
In this study, researchers measured quality of life in 4,262 patients with localised breast cancer (stage I to III) at the time of diagnosis and at one and two years thereafter. Primary treatment for these patients was surgical and, for some of them, administration of chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy. About 75-80% of them then took hormone therapy for at least 5 years. Quality of life was measured using a tool which assesses general quality of life in patients with all types of cancer (EORTC QLQ-C30) combined with a tool more specifically designed for use in breast cancer (QLQ-BR23).
For the population studied as a whole there was an overall deterioration in the quality of life at two years from diagnosis. This deterioration was greater in patients who had received hormone therapy, especially after the menopause. By contrast, chemotherapy had a bigger effect on quality of life in non-menopausal patients, especially in terms of worsening of cognitive functions.