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Depression Drug May Aid Breast Cancer Care

New research discovers a drug commonly used to treat depression and anxiety disorder — duloxetine, trade name Cymbalta — can reduce joint and muscle pain associated with a breast cancer treatment.

Scientists from the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center studied women taking aromatase inhibitors, a type of drug designed to block the production of estrogen, which fuels some breast cancers.

About half of women taking these drugs experience aches and pains in their joints and muscles that cannot be adequately relieved by over-the-counter painkillers. Up to 20 percent of these women will stop taking an aromatase inhibitor because of this pain.

“Since women typically take these drugs for five years, it is important that the side effects not interfere too much with their quality of life, or they will be less likely to continue taking the medicine, which may lead to a greater chance of their breast cancer returning,” says study author N. Lynn Henry, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of internal medicine at the U-M Medical School.

Henry presented the initial results of the study at the 33rd Annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.

The study looked at the drug duloxetine, or Cymbalta, which is used to treat depression and generalized anxiety disorder. It’s also been shown to work in multiple other chronic pain conditions, such as fibromyalgia and, more recently, osteoarthritis. It is believed to decrease pain through its actions in the central nervous system.

Of 29 patients evaluated, nearly three-quarters reported that their pain had decreased by at least 30 percent. On average, after eight weeks of treatment, pain scores declined 61 percent. Only one in five patients stopped taking duloxetine because of side effects.

“Duloxetine appears to be effective at reducing the muscle and joint pain many women experience from aromatase inhibitors, with only mild additional side effects,” Henry says.

The researchers are planning a randomized, controlled trial comparing duloxetine to placebo. Henry is also doing research looking at the effect of aromatase inhibitors on pain perception to better understand why women develop pain.

Source: University of Michigan

Depression Drug May Aid Breast Cancer Care

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Depression Drug May Aid Breast Cancer Care. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 21, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2010/12/12/depression-drug-may-aid-breast-cancer-care/21757.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.