Penn Medicine Study of Breast Cancer Message Boards Finds Frequent Discussion of Drug Side Effects, Discontinuation of Therapy


January 23, 2013

In the first study to examine discussion of drug side effects on Internet message boards, researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania found that breast cancer survivors taking the commonly prescribed adjuvant therapy known as aromatase inhibitors (AIs) often detailed in these forums troublesome symptoms resulting from the drugs, and they were apt to report discontinuing the treatment or switching to a different drug in the same class. The findings are published online this week in the journal Pharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety. With 2.5 million breast cancer survivors living in the United States today – the largest group of cancer survivors – researchers say the findings have broad implications for physician communication with patients about these issues to help to promote proper adherence and inform patient-to-patient discussion online. The study was led by Jun J. Mao, MD, MSCE, an assistant professor of Family Medicine and Community Health, who directs the Integrative Oncology program in Penn’s Abramson Cancer Center, and John Holmes, PhD, associate professor of Medical Informatics in Epidemiology.

Penn Medicine News Release