ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Overweight Moms More Likely to Have Asthmatic Kids
Air Quality Better in Northeast, Midwest
Childhood Food Allergies on the Rise
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Meditation May Boost Short-Term Visual Memory
Hypnosis Cuts Hot Flashes for Breast Cancer Survivors
Memory Loss Help from Brain Supplement Prevagen
ANIMAL CARE
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Separation Anxiety, Canine-Style
BONES & JOINTS
Studies Struggle to Gauge Glucosamine's Worth
Brazilian Mint Tea Naturally Good for Pain Relief
Returning to the Road Tricky After Injury
CANCER
Where You Live May Affect Your Cancer Diagnosis
More Americans Urged to Get Cancer Screenings
Breast Self-Exam Rates Go Up With Counseling
CAREGIVING
Transition From Home to Hospital Rarely Seamless
Study of Everest Climbers Questions Oxygen Use
3 Steps Might Help Stop MRSA's Spread
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Anemia Rates Down for U.S. Women and Children
A Brisk Pace May Keep Stroke at Bay
Walk 100 Steps a Minute for 'Moderate' Exercise
COSMETIC
Mouse Study Finds Molecule That Tells Hair to Grow
With Psoriasis, the Internet May Offer Hope
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
DENTAL, ORAL
Gum Care Helps Control Type 2 Diabetes and Its Complications
Dental Implants Need More Work Than Root Canals
Periodontal Disease Impacts Whole Health
DIABETES
Spices, Herbs Boost Health for Diabetics
Lifestyle Factors Tied to Older Adults' Diabetes Risk
Study Shows Turmeric May Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
DIET, NUTRITION
Coffee or Tea Consumption May Lower Stroke Risk
Most Fast-Food French Fries Cooked in Unhealthiest Oil
Trans-Fat Ban In New York City Is Proving successful
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Population-Based Strategy Urged to Cut U.S. Obesity Rate
Exposure to 9/11 Fumes Tied to Chronic Headaches
Scorpion Anti-Venom Speeds Children's Recovery
EYE CARE, VISION
Magnetic Pulses to Brain Improve Lazy Eye in Adults
Brain Adapts to Age-Related Eye Disease
Antioxidant-Rich Diet May Protect Against Eye Disease
FITNESS
Exercise Keeps the Brain Young
Being Active an Hour a Day Puts Brakes on Weight Gain
Diet, Exercise May Slow Kidney Disease Progression
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Olive Oil May Protect Against Bowel Disease
Gum Chewing May Speed Colon Surgery Recovery
Traditional Nonsurgical GERD Treatments Not Impressive
GENERAL HEALTH
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Kids More Apt to Smoke If Mom Did While Pregnant
Play Creatively as a Kid, Be a Healthier Adult
HEAD & NECK
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
E-Mailing Your Way to Healthier Habits
Subway Defibrillators Save Lives
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Man's Best Friend Helps Mend Broken Hearts
Walk Long, Slow and Often to Help the Heart
Low Vitamin D Levels Linked to Heart Disease
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
The HPV Vaccine: Preventative Medicine or Human Sacrifice?
Hand Washing 10 Times a Day May Help Keep Flu Away
Chinese 'Devil Dung' Plant Could Be a Swine Flu Fighter
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Boosting Kids' Stroke IQ May Save Lives
Don't Leave Your Kids In The Car !
Heart Defects in Newborns Linked to Antidepressants
MEN'S HEALTH
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
Whole Grains, Bran May Fight Hypertension in Men
Low Iron Levels Cut Cancer Risk in Men With PAD
MENTAL HEALTH
Consciousness Helps the Mind and Body Work Together
Estrogen May Help Men's Hearts
Eight Spiritual Universal Principles in the Art of Practice
PAIN
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Placebo Acupuncture Tied to Higher IVF Pregnancies
Alternative Treatments May Boost IVF Success
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
SENIORS
The Healthy Habits of Centenarians
Older People at Greater Risk of Swine Flu Death
Save Your Aging Brain, Try Surfing The Web
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Supplements Might Reduce Breast Cancer Risk
Calcium Helps Ward Off Colon Cancer
Natural Childbirth Moms More Attuned to Babies' Cry
Add your Article

Poor Women Seem to Be Skipping Breast Cancer Drugs

By Randy Dotinga
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, May 18 (HealthDay News) -- In another sign of the challenges facing the health-care industry as it tries to serve the poor, researchers from North Carolina are reporting that nearly four in 10 poor women recovering from breast cancer do not take the drugs recommended to keep their cancer from returning.

Those who do not follow instructions to take these drugs, medications that block hormones, face a higher risk of dying, said study author Dr. Gretchen Kimmick.

The findings don't examine whether wealthier women are more likely to take the drugs, nor do they reveal trends over time.

Even so, they raise questions about poor women's lack of adherence to the drug regimens, including whether it's due to factors other than money because government-funded insurance would cover almost all the cost.

"The key right now is that we've got to figure out why they didn't get the standard treatment," said Kimmick, an associate professor in medical oncology at Duke University.

The study included 1,491 low-income women, who averaged 67 years old and were recovering from breast cancer, which had been diagnosed between 1998 and 2002.

The researchers found that 36 percent of the women failed to fill prescriptions for the recommended drugs to prevent the return of a type of breast cancer known as hormone receptor-positive. Women in the study had that type or an unknown type of breast cancer; two-thirds had undergone mastectomies.

Of those who did fill initial prescriptions, 40 percent stopped the drugs before the end of the year-long period.

The study, funded by the U.S. National Cancer Institute and the drug company AstraZeneca, appears in the May 18 online issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Drugs such as the well-known medication tamoxifen, which AstraZeneca markets, are thought to help prevent the recurrence of breast cancer. Kimmick said that they seem to kill cancer cells by blocking estrogen from getting to them.

Treatments such as radiation and chemotherapy don't always kill cells that "snuck out," and the drugs appear to target them, she said.

But some women might have trouble getting into the routine of taking the drugs, she said. Side effects are also possible.

Cost could be a factor in some cases, but the women in the study paid only a "minimal" co-payment for the drugs, Kimmick said.

There are other possible explanations. Dr. Leonidas G. Koniaris, a surgical oncologist who's familiar with the study's findings, said that some women might not realize the value of the drugs.

It's also possible that people from certain cultures could have more mistrust of doctors and medical treatments, said Koniaris, chairman of surgical oncology and an associate professor of surgery at the University of Miami.

Ultimately, he said, women's survival is at risk if they don't follow instructions. Though the drugs won't make a difference to women whose breast cancer was cured by initial treatment, he said, "for one in 10 or one in 20, their chance for cure and long-term survival is shortened by not taking the medications."

More information

The nonprofit group BreastCancer.org has more on breast cancer treatment and side effects.



SOURCES: Gretchen Kimmick, M.D., associate professor, medical oncology, Duke University, Durham, N.C.; Leonidas G. Koniaris, M.D., associate professor and Alan Livingstone chair in surgical oncology, University of Miami; May 18, 2009, Journal of Clinical Oncology, online

Last Updated: May 18, 2009

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