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Breast cancer treatment

Women taking a particular type of oral breast cancer treatment are abandoning the drug well before the end of their course, a study has found.

Tamoxifen is routinely prescribed to patients following breast cancer treatment as it has been shown to help prevent recurrence of the disease.

An Irish study of women prescribed tamoxifen has revealed that 22.1 per cent stopped taking the drug within a year of commencing treatment, despite the fact that they are recommended to continue taking the drug for five years.

Over a third - 35.2 per cent - stop taking the drug within three and a half years, with younger women between the ages of 35 and 44 and those over the age of 75 most likely to abandon their course of treatment.

According to the British Medical Journal, researchers from Trinity College and St James's Hospital, Dublin, claimed: "Five years of adjuvant tamoxifen is the recommended treatment and results in a reduction in the relative breast cancer recurrence risk of 46 per cent and the relative risk of death of 26 per cent."

One of the factors thought to be behind women's decision to abandon treatment is the side-effects often experienced, with many experiencing hot flushes, irregular menstruation, headaches, fatigue and nausea.

However, the researchers warn that stopping the treatment course early is "likely to result in significantly worse outcomes".

The study is published in the January 22nd online issue of Cancer journal.

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