Many breast cancer patients experience arthralgia symptoms during aromatase inhibitor (AI) treatment, which leads to poor compliance and a lower quality of life.
The research questions of this study were as follows: (1) What is the incidence of arthralgia during AI treatment in early breast cancer patients, (2) what is the impact of AI-associated arthralgia on hand function, daily activities, and AI adherence, and (3) does the healthcare provider recognize AI-associated arthralgia as relevant in clinical practice?
A total of 57 breast cancer patients of a University Breast Cancer Clinic participated in this study. Each patient completed a questionnaire, performed 2 function tests (goniometry of the wrist and a handgrip strength measurement), and consented to a review of the medical chart.
Forty-two breast cancer patients (74%) reported symptoms of arthralgia. All patients with arthralgia symptoms experienced an impact on their daily activities, and 65% had a decrease in hand and finger function. Sixty-nine percent of all patients were fully adherent in their medicine treatment. In 26% of cases with arthralgia, the symptoms were not reported in the medical chart.
Given the large number of patients with AI-associated arthralgia and its impact on daily life and functioning, it is of great importance to improve the recognition and care of arthralgia symptoms during AI treatment.
Oncology nurses could play an important role in assessment of modifiable risk factors, providing lifestyle advice and support in coping.
Author Affiliations: Department of Medical Oncology (Mrs Boonstra andDrs Timmer-Bonte, Ottevanger, and van Laarhoven), Department of Rheumatology (Dr van Zadelhoff), and Department of Physiotherapy (Dr Beurskens), Radboud University, Nijmegen Medical Centre; and Department of Medical Oncology, Academic Medical Centre, University of Amsterdam (Dr van Laarhoven), the Netherlands.
The authors have no funding or conflicts of interest to disclose.
Correspondence: Hanneke W. M. van Laarhoven, MD, PhD, Department of Medical Oncology, Academic Medical Centre, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Meibergdreef 9, the Netherlands (email@example.com).
Accepted for publication January 10, 2012.