LOS ANGELES -- Breast cancer survival rates have improved in recent years, and women have more treatment choices, including -- in cases of early-stage cancer -- the opportunity to forgo chemotherapy. A new study shows, however, that women who undergo chemotherapy experience more symptoms in the year after surgery.
Researchers led by Dr. Patricia A. Ganz of UCLA, found that women who have chemotherapy can have symptoms that persist for even a year. These include vaginal symptoms, musculoskeletal pain and weight problems.
The study also found that women who have chemotherapy and those who don't frequently suffered vasomotor problems, such as hot flashes. This symptom was more severe in the women who did not undergo chemotherapy, possibly because they are more likely to take tamoxifen, which can cause hot flashes.
But health problems related to treatment in the year after surgery are mostly mild and women recover, said the authors of an editorial accompanying the study. "The overall message from the studies ... is that recovery takes time," they wrote.
The study was published Monday in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
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