Symptoms and QOL in breast cancer patients receiving hormone therapy in Japan

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The aim was to clarify subjective symptoms and quality of life (QOL) in breast cancer patients receiving hormone therapy.


After obtaining approval from the research ethics committee, an observational study using a self-administered questionnaire was conducted at outpatient clinical oncology offices in 3 facilities that targeted breast cancer patients under the age of 50 who had been undergoing hormone therapy for less than 1 year. The study examined elements such as the breast cancer patients’ basic information, symptoms, pain in daily life, QOL, and depression/anxiety.


There were 214 valid responses. The respondents had an average age of 43.6. Of them, 100% were also treated with Tamoxifen and 30% with LH-RH agonist. There were 75% who were cognizant of side effects. Difficult symptoms that occurred with high frequency were stiff shoulders/back pain, decreased physical strength, hot flashes, and sweating. Over half the respondents were uncertain as to whether the subjective symptoms were side effects. They lost confidence in their physical strength and felt distressed over weight gain. There were 51 with a HADS anxiety score of 8 or higher, and 46 who scored 8 points or higher for depression.


Breast cancer patients undergoing hormone therapy experience a variety of pains, and some also have serious psychological symptoms. Reassessing support systems to examine screening and self-care support is an issue going forward.

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Fig. 1
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Quality of life


Hospital and Depression Scale


Functional assessment of cancer therapy-breast


Standard deviation


Adolescent and young adult


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We are extremely grateful to all the breast cancer patients who cooperated in this research and provided valuable opinions. This research was implemented with a Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research from The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology “Development of Self-Treatment System-Focusing on Breast Cancer Patients During Hormone Therapy- (Grant Number 22659403).”

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Correspondence to Yukiko Iioka.

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Iioka, Y., Iwata, T. & Yamauchi, H. Symptoms and QOL in breast cancer patients receiving hormone therapy in Japan. Breast Cancer 27, 62–69 (2020).

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  • Breast cancer
  • Hormone therapy
  • Symptom
  • QOL