A proactive study that involved interviewing women with breast cancer through questionnaires proved that the side effects of cancer drugs can be so harsh that patients prefer to live without treatment. A lot of women stop treatment halfway due to the undesirable side effects. As per reports, nearly 36% of the women who undergo cancer treatment give up using these drugs. In the largest study of its kind, the present research proved that side effects are the major reason. The research has also revealed that there is a lot of difference between experience and statement of victims regarding side effects.
The study, which has been conducted by Lynne Wagner from the Northwestern University Feinberg, asserts that the effects of drugs needs to be seriously considered and should not be ignored. The study was also carried out by Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center psychologist from the same University. Since medicines are given in order to prevent the occurrence of cancer, side effects are not given the top priority during treatment. Patients, on the other hand, do not complain about the medicine because they do not wish to discontinue treatment. However, when side effects become severe, a lot of people give up treatment. The exact repercussions and suffering is usually not revealed.
Some of the most common side effects of the drugs include pain the joints, low sex drive, sudden increase in weight, hot flashes, nausea, mood swings, irritability, sensitivity in the breasts and a feeling of being bloated. These effects are caused by drugs that are meant to curb the function of estrogen because cancer cells depend on estrogen for growth. This quality is found in two thirds of the drugs used in treatments. By using these drugs, recurrence of the cancer is reduced manifold.
Women who experience severe effects and end up giving up use of the drug are those who still experience the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation. In women who were not subjected to these treatments and underwent surgery, it was found that the risk of discontinuity of drugs was much lower. The initial phase of the treatment, when adverse reactions are the highest, seemed to have a lot of influence on continuity of drugs.
686 women were considered for the study. Responses towards continuity of treatment were evaluated through questionnaires. While the period for treatment and use of these drugs is five years after chemo, radiation or surgery, it was found that 36% women stopped using the drugs within 4 years citing unbearable side effects.