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Breast cancer

SSRI could relieve aromatase inhibitor side effects

A study finds that duloxetine can help women better tolerate their breast cancer treatment.

Three MRI scans showing breast cancer

Source: Zephyr / Science Photo Library

Women with breast cancer may stop taking aromatase inhibitor therapy if they experience musculoskeletal side effects

Adherence to aromatase inhibitor therapy by women with hormone receptor-positive breast cancer is often poor because of the occurrence of musculoskeletal side effects.

A randomised, placebo-controlled trial explored whether the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) duloxetine, which is sometimes used to treat chronic pain disorders, reduced pain in 255 postmenopausal women with early breast cancer and new or worsened joint pain since beginning aromatase inhibitor therapy.

From baseline to 12 weeks, the mean pain score out of 10 dropped from 5.4 to 2.9 in the duloxetine group. This improvement was significantly greater than in the placebo group, where pain scores also decreased to a mean of 3.5.

Presenting their findings at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, held from 6–10 December 2016, the researchers say the findings show that duloxetine could help women tolerate their breast cancer treatment and potentially improve their adherence[1].

Citation: Clinical Pharmacist DOI: 10.1211/CP.2017.20202204

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Supplementary images

  • Three MRI scans showing breast cancer

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