Supportive Care in Cancer

, Volume 27, Issue 10, pp 3813–3822 | Cite as

Characteristics of adverse events of endocrine therapies among older patients with breast cancer

  • Naoko HonmaEmail author
  • Masujiro Makita
  • Shigehira Saji
  • Tetuo Mikami
  • Hideaki Ogata
  • Rie Horii
  • Futoshi Akiyama
  • Takuji Iwase
  • Shinji Ohno
Original Article



To clarify the profile of adverse events from endocrine therapies in older patients.


We surveyed 15 subjective symptoms including hot flashes, sweating, knuckle stiffness, knee/shoulder joint pain, limb numbness, lethargy, forgetfulness, depressive state, irritated state, genital bleeding, leukorrhea increase, vaginal dryness, bone fracture, and weight gain by a questionnaire among 2044 patients over 55 years old (total number of answered sheets, 8875) and compared the results according to age (56–69 years old vs. ≥ 70 years old) and type of therapy (aromatase inhibitors (AIs) vs. selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs)). Among patients 56–69 years old, 6093 and 314 responses were from patients treated with AIs (1477 patients) and SERMs (123 patients), respectively, and 2292 and 176 responses were from those ≥ 70 years old treated with AIs (581 patients) and SERMs (51 patients), respectively.


In patients ≥ 70 years old, sweating, knuckle stiffness, knee/shoulder joint pain, limb numbness, and lethargy were significantly more frequent/severe with AIs than with SERMs. In those aged 56–69, knuckle stiffness and vaginal dryness were significantly more frequent with AIs than with SERMs, but the opposite occurred for hot flashes, leukorrhea increase, genital bleeding, and weight gain.


Among patients ≥ 70 years old, many symptoms were significantly more frequent/severe with AIs than with SERMs, compared with those aged 56–69, which suggests a difference in the profile of adverse events according to the type of endocrine therapy and the patient’s age. It is important to consider the benefits and risks of each treatment to optimize endocrine therapy for older patients.


Aromatase inhibitor Endocrine therapy Older Tamoxifen Questionnaire Postmenopausal 



We thank all the stuff of Breast Oncology Center, Cancer Institute Hospital for their great help.

Funding information

This study was supported by MEXT/JSPS KAKENHI grant number 16K08660 and the Japanese Foundation for Multidisciplinary Treatment of Cancer.

Compliance with ethical standards

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Conflict of interest

The authors have nothing to declare regarding this work. Dr. Saji reports grants and personal fees from Eisai, grants and personal fees from Chugai, grants and personal fees from AstraZeneca, grants and personal fees from Takeda, grants and personal fees from Novartis, grants and personal fees from Taiho, grants and personal fees from Nihon Kayaku, grants from Ono, personal fees from KyowaHakko-Kirin, personal fees from Pfizer, and personal fees from Daiichi Sankyo, outside the submitted work. Dr. Ohno reports grants and personal fees from Chugai, grants and personal fees from Taiho, grants and personal fees from Eisai, grants from Daiichi Sankyo, personal fees from AstraZeneca, personal fees from KyowaHakko-kirin, personal fees from Pfizer, and personal fees from Novartis, outside the submitted work.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PathologyToho University School of MedicineTokyoJapan
  2. 2.Department of PathologyCancer InstituteTokyoJapan
  3. 3.Department of Breast SurgeryNippon Medical School Musashi Kosugi HospitalKawasaki CityJapan
  4. 4.Department of Medical OncologyFukushima Medical UniversityFukushimaJapan
  5. 5.Department of Breast and Endocrine SurgeryToho University Omori Medical CenterTokyoJapan
  6. 6.Breast Oncology CenterCancer Institute HospitalTokyoJapan

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