Anastrozole-Associated Joint Pain and Other Symptoms in Patients With Breast Cancer


      More than a third of breast cancer patients undergoing aromatase inhibitor (AI) treatment report joint pain. We conducted a longitudinal study to characterize the course of AI-induced joint pain and other symptoms and to identify potential predictors for developing these symptoms. Patients were recruited before AI initiation. The Brief Pain Inventory, M. D. Anderson Symptom Inventory, and a joint-pain questionnaire were administered at baseline and then biweekly for 1 year. Analysis included logistic regression, Cox models, and mixed-effects models. Of 47 patients assessed, 16 (34%) reported joint pain at least once. Median time to first report of joint pain was 7 weeks (range, 1–38). Baseline pain was the only predictor for both incidence of joint pain and time to first event. In the first 6 weeks, emergence of joint pain was associated with increase in general pain, fatigue, disturbed sleep, hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and decreased sexual activity. After week 6, having joint pain was associated with increase in general pain and with persistently high fatigue. Having AI-associated joint pain correlated with increase in or persistence of other symptoms likely related to AI therapy. Further research is needed to validate predictors of AI-associated symptoms.


      We demonstrate for the first time that AI-induced joint pain associates with development of other symptoms and that pretreatment pain level is a potential, measurable predictor of symptom development during treatment. Because baseline pain is easily assessed with a brief questionnaire, it can be applied clinically with minimal patient burden.

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