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Support Care Cancer. 2014 Apr;22(4):937-45. doi: 10.1007/s00520-013-2041-y. Epub 2013 Nov 24.

Associations between adjuvant endocrine therapy and onset of physical and emotional concerns among breast cancer survivors.

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Department of Medicine (Hematology-Oncology, Geriatric Medicine), University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, USA,



Breast cancer survivors often receive long-term adjuvant endocrine therapy (AET) to reduce recurrence risk. Adherence to AET is suboptimal, which may be due to the experience of symptoms and/or concerns. Few studies have comprehensively assessed self-reported concerns between those who currently, previously or have never received AET. The study objective is to describe self-reported physical and emotional concerns of breast cancer survivors who are current, prior, or never-recipients of AET.


Secondary analysis was performed on a subset of survey data collected in the 2010 LIVESTRONG Survey. Breast cancer survivors (n = 1,013, mean 5.4 years post-diagnosis) reported on 14 physical and eight emotional concerns that began after diagnosis and were experienced within 6 months of participation in the survey. Bivariate analyses examined the prevalence of each concern by AET status. The relationships between AET and burden of physical or emotional concerns were modeled with logistic regression.


More than 50% of the participants reported currently experiencing cognitive issues, fatigue, fear of recurrence, emotional distress, and identity/grief issues. Thyroid dysfunction and stigma concerns were more common among participants with prior AET (p < 0.01), while fear of recurrence, emotional distress, and concern about appearance were more common among those currently receiving AET (p < 0.01). Fatigue, sexual dysfunction, and pain were more common among prior and current AET recipients (p < 0.01). In adjusted models, receipt of AET was associated with a higher number of physical, but not emotional concerns. A higher number of concerns was associated with younger age, having children, receipt of chemotherapy, longer duration of cancer treatment, and shorter time since diagnosis (p < 0.01).


Breast cancer survivors who received AET were at risk of developing a variety of physical and emotional concerns, many of which persisted after treatment. These findings suggest the importance of developing individualized, supportive resources for breast cancer survivors.

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