Aromatase Inhibitor Symptom Management Practices: A Retrospective Study



      Aromatase inhibitor (AI)-associated symptoms contribute to early therapy discontinuation. Although guidelines exist for management of these symptoms, little is known about the degree to which physicians address symptoms and adhere to the guidelines for treatment.

      Patients and Methods

      In this retrospective chart review, women with hormone receptor–positive breast cancer who were prescribed an AI between October 15, 2012, and September 14, 2017, were randomly selected from the institution’s cancer registry. Patient medical records were reviewed to identify the prevalence of symptom documentation and management. Documented symptoms were categorized into musculoskeletal, vasomotor, and urogenital. Symptom treatment guidelines were compiled from the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) and the American Cancer Society/American Society of Clinical Oncology (ACS/ASCO). Treatments were categorized as either meeting or not meeting the guidelines. Among patients with symptoms recorded, chi-square tests and time-to-event models were used to examine factors associated with treatment and factors associated with guideline-based treatment.


      Among 179 women prescribed an AI, 82% had at least one symptom and 46% had multiple symptoms. Of the 147 women with any documented symptom, 97 (66%) received some form of symptom-palliating treatment. Seventy-seven patients (52%) received guideline-based treatments or guideline-based treatments in combination with non–guideline-based treatments. There were no differences in receipt of treatment overall (ie, guideline based or non–guideline based) for either vasomotor or musculoskeletal symptoms by age, race, or stage.


      Although 82% of patients had symptoms documented in their medical records, just over half of those patients received guideline-based treatment.


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