A breast cancer drug treatment increases the chances of a woman developing carpal tunnel syndrome, according to research.
Women with the disease who took tamoxifen for two-three years and then took exemestane were less likely to develop further cancer and were at less risk of death.
However, those taking exemestane developed more musculoskeletal problems, such as fractures or joint pains, than women remaining on the five-year course of tamoxifen: a respective 42.4% and 33.2%.
Women with hormone-sensitive breast cancer are typically given a five-year regimen after surgery.
The findings came out of tests involving 4,700 women in 37 countries, known as the Intergroup Exemestane Study.
Researchers said 2.8% of the exemestane group suffered carpal tunnel syndrome but only 0.3% of the other group suffered the same.
The findings are published in the journal Lancet Oncology, giving more information about the musculoskeletal side-effects of the drug.
The study was conducted by Leiden University Medical Centre in The Netherlands, Imperial College London and the Institute of Cancer Research.
Commenting on the study, the institute’s Judith Bliss said: “We found more than half of patients who developed this side-effect had surgery. But the vast majority were able to continue their treatment for breast cancer and did not experience carpal tunnel syndrome once their treatment had concluded.”
- Mieog JSD, et al. Carpal tunnel syndrome and musculoskeletal symptoms in postmenopausal women with early breast cancer treated with exemestane or tamoxifen after 2—3 years of tamoxifen: a retrospective analysis of the Intergroup Exemestane Study. The Lancet Oncology 2011; Advance online publication.