Physician and Patient Barriers to Breast Cancer Preventive Therapy

Susan Hum, Melinda Wu, Sandhya Pruthi, Ruth Heisey

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


The uptake of selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs) and aromatase inhibitors (AIs) for the primary prevention of breast cancer is low, despite their proven efficacy in several randomized clinical trials. This review summarizes the latest data on physicians’ and women’s barriers to breast cancer preventive therapy. Physicians’ challenges include: identifying suitable candidates for preventive therapy, inadequate training and confidence in risk assessment and counselling, insufficient knowledge of risk-reducing medications, and lack of time. High-risk women fear medication side effects, and they often weigh experiences of others more heavily than statistical probabilities to guide their decision-making. Despite decision aid interventions to help women make an informed decision, acceptance of preventive therapy will remain low until: risk/benefit profiles are more favorable, physicians are better educated and skilled in having these discussions, and suitable biomarkers to monitor drug efficacy and better clinical risk prediction models to assess true individual risk are available.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)158-164
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent Breast Cancer Reports
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016


  • AIs
  • Aromatase inhibitors
  • Breast cancer
  • Chemoprevention
  • Decision-making
  • Preventive therapy
  • SERMs
  • Selective estrogen receptor modulators
  • Uptake

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology


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