Nearly half of women with early-stage invasive breast cancer report experiencing at least 1 severe or very severe treatment-related toxicity, with approximately 1 in 10 reporting unscheduled clinic visits for toxicity management, a study published in the journal Cancer has shown.1

Although patient-reported toxicities are a factor in determining the quality of the breast cancer treatment experience, most data come from clinical trials and health care claims that may be biased. Therefore, researchers sought to quantify the frequency, severity, and burden of treatment-associated toxicities in patients with early-stage invasive breast cancer using patient surveys.

For the iCanCare study, investigators surveyed 1945 women with early-stage, invasive breast cancer residing in Los Angeles County and Georgia between 2013 and 2014.

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Results showed that 45% of patients reported at least 1 toxicity that was severe or very severe and 9% reported unscheduled clinic visits for management of adverse effects. Researchers found that 5% visited an emergency department or hospital to manage toxicities.

The study further demonstrated that receipt of chemotherapy was associated with a 2 times higher likelihood of reporting higher toxicity severity (odds ratio [OR], 2.2; 95% CI, 2.0-2.5).

In addition, receipt of both chemotherapy and radiotherapy (OR, 1.3; 95% CI, 1.0-1.7) and being of Latina ethnicity (OR, 1.3; 95% CI, 1.1-1.5) were each associated with a 30% increased risk of experiencing a toxicity of higher severity.

There was no significant association between receipt of bilateral mastectomy and likelihood of reporting at least 1 severe or very severe toxicity (OR, 1.2; 95% CI, 1.0-1.4).

The findings suggesting that this population reports substantial treatment-associated toxicities and related burden underscore the need for clinicians to collect toxicity data routinely and offer early intervention.


1. Friese CR, Harrison JM, Janz NK, et al. Treatment-associated toxicities reported by patients with early-stage invasive breast cancer. Cancer. 2017 Jan 24. doi: 10.1002/cncr.30547. [Epub ahead of print]