"Patients often do not volunteer that kind of information. It's up to the doctor or nurse to directly ask them," said Dr. Harold Burstein, a breast oncologist at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. "And it's important to do that because they may be able to take an alternative treatment that doesn't have those side effects."
Aromatase inhibitors have been shown to improve a woman's chance of survival after breast cancer by 30 percent, a powerful reason to continue treatment. But doctors say reports of such intolerable side effects are equally important to consider.
"These pills have very profound benefit against breast cancer, but if people don't take the pills, they don't work," Brooks said. "I can tell you that this study will change my perception to ask questions of patients as we're treating them."