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J Adolesc Young Adult Oncol. 2016 Mar;5(1):16-23. doi: 10.1089/jayao.2015.0051. Epub 2015 Dec 17.

Perceptions, Attributions, and Emotions Toward Endocrine Therapy in Young Women with Breast Cancer.

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1 Harvard Medical School , Boston, Massachusetts.
2 Dana-Farber Cancer Institute , Boston, Massachusetts.
3 Departments of Psychology and Psychiatry/Biobehavioral Sciences and Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of California , Los Angeles, California.
4 The University of Auckland , Auckland, New Zealand .



The aims of this study were to describe symptoms attributed to endocrine therapy (ET) and perceptions of ET in a sample of young women with breast cancer and to explore whether these factors are associated with adherence to ET.


An online questionnaire was completed by 106 young women taking ET for hormone receptor-positive breast cancer. In addition to demographic and medical characteristics, the survey assessed symptom attribution, emotions, and perceptions related to ET. A supplemental survey measuring adherence to ET was completed by 82/106 women. Means, medians, and frequency distributions were calculated for continuous and categorical covariates, respectively. An exploratory analysis evaluated whether adherence was associated with patient characteristics and views.


The mean age of respondents was 39 years (range 22-45 years). Two-thirds of women had stage 1 or 2 breast cancer. Women attributed an average of nine symptoms to ET; hot flashes, night sweats, and decreased libido were the most frequently attributed symptoms. Positive emotions toward ET were more common than negative emotions were, although only 48% of respondents believed that ET was essential. Women of higher financial status and those who reported more positive emotions toward ET reported greater adherence with ET. A significant difference in symptom attribution was not detected between less and more adherent respondents.


Young women's views regarding ET may play an important role in determining adherence behavior. Given that young women have a higher risk of recurrence, some of which may be attributable to ET non-adherence, further work is needed to confirm these findings and determine whether interventions designed to modify young women's perceptions of ET could promote adherence.


breast cancer; psychosocial; survivorship

[Available on 2017-03-01]
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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