According to a recent study, only some women who are at higher risk of developing breast cancer think they need to take a drug proven to help prevent the disease.
The researchers, led by a team from the University of Leeds, asked more than 400 women at a higher risk of breast cancer, whether they thought they needed to take tamoxifen and their concerns about medication.
Around 72 per cent said that they were worried about the long-term effects of tamoxifen and 57 per cent believed that the drug would give them unpleasant side-effects.
The findings of the study are published in the Journal of Clinical Breast Cancer.
The researchers found that almost 29 per cent of women thought doctors prescribed too many medicines, and more than 35 per cent thought that the doctors would prescribe fewer drugs if they had more time. Around a quarter 24 per cent of them had experienced bad reactions to medicines in the past.
Almost 24 per cent of women thought people on medication should take regular breaks from the prescribed drugs while 23 per cent said that they were very sensitive to medicines and 17 per cent believed that the natural remedies were safer than medicines.
In a follow-up questionnaire, answered by 250 women, researchers found that fewer than 15 per cent were taking tamoxifen, despite having discussed preventive therapy with a healthcare professional. Women who believed that the medication was less necessary and had more concerns about its use were less likely to be taking prescriptions.
“Women in our study were rightfully considering the potential harms and benefits of using preventive therapy. But some beliefs about the use of medicine were very negative. This appears to be putting some women off tamoxifen, despite its proven ability to help prevent breast cancer in the long term,” said the lead author of the study, Samuel Smith.
There are some potential side effects of breast cancer medications, but it’s vital that women have all the information, so they can make the best choice for them.