Aromatase inhibitor associated arthralgia: the importance of oncology provider-patient communication about side effects and potential management through physical activity

Kirsten A. Nyrop*, Leigh F. Callahan, Christine Marie Rini, Mary Altpeter, Betsy Hackney, Amy DePue, Anne Wilson, Arielle Schechter, Hyman B. Muss

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Scopus citations

Abstract

Purpose: Breast cancer survivors on aromatase inhibitors (AI) often experience side effects of joint pain, stiffness, or achiness (arthralgia). This study presents findings from a qualitative study of survivors on an AI regarding their knowledge of potential joint pain side effects and how both AI side effects and their management through moderate physical activity could be discussed during routine visits with their oncology provider. Methods: Qualitative data from semi-structured interviews were content analyzed for emergent themes. Descriptive statistics summarize sample characteristics. Results: Our sample included 36 survivors, mean age of 67 (range 46–87); 86 % Caucasian and 70 % had education beyond high school. AI experience are as follows: 64 % anastrozole/Arimidex, 48 % letrozole/Femara, and 31 % exemestane/Aromasin. Participants expressed interest in having more information about potential joint pain side effects when the AI was prescribed so they could understand their joint symptoms when they appeared or intensified. They were relieved to learn that their joint symptoms were not unusual or “in their head.” Participants would have been especially motivated to try walking as a way to manage their joint pain if physical activity had been recommended by their oncologist. Conclusions: Breast cancer survivors who are prescribed an AI as part of their adjuvant treatment want ongoing communication with their oncology provider about the potential for joint pain side effects and how these symptoms may be managed through regular physical activity. The prescription of an AI presents a “teachable moment” for oncologists to recommend and encourage their patients to engage in regular physical activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2643-2650
Number of pages8
JournalSupportive Care in Cancer
Volume24
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2016

Keywords

  • Adaptation
  • Aromatase inhibitor
  • Pain
  • Physical activity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology

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