A study looking at joint and muscle aches, pain and stiffness in women with breast cancer (JACS)

Cancer type:

Breast cancer





This study looked at women with breast cancer and their experiences of joint and muscle aches, pain and stiffness. Researchers wanted to understand more about what causes this. 

It was for women with newly diagnosed breast cancer that hadn’t spread (primary breast cancer). 

The study looked at pain as a side effect of treatment.

More about this trial

We know from research that many women have joint aches, pain and stiffness after treatment for breast cancer
An earlier study of women showed that:
  • women with breast cancer had more joint pain that those who didn’t
  • joint pain may affect these women’s daily activities
Sometimes joint pain can be bad enough to make the person want to stop their treatment. But it isn’t clear:
  • which breast cancer treatment causes aches and pains
  • how bad these aches and pains are
  • how long they last
  • how they affect people’s lives
Researchers want to find out more about joint aches and pains after treatment for primary breast cancer. Although these symptoms can be caused by getting older or the change of life (menopause), there may be a link to breast cancer treatment. 
This study looked at the experiences of women having chemotherapy or hormone therapy (or both) for primary breast cancer. They hoped their findings would help doctors provide information to patients when deciding on their treatment plan. And find ways of treating the aches and pains. 
The aims of this study were to find out:
  • when the joint aches, pains and stiffness started
  • how they affected quality of life Open a glossary item and daily activities
  • if the type of breast cancer and treatment makes a difference

Summary of results

The researchers found out more about the type of pain women have after breast cancer treatment and the negative impact it has on quality of life.
The researchers recruited people between 2010 and 2011. They published some of the results in 2014. They are planning further publications, and we hope to update this summary when they are available. 
543 women joined the study. They’d all had surgery for breast cancer. 
Everyone filled in a set of questionnaires 5 times over 2 years. 
These asked about:
  • the women’s ages and where they lived
  • their quality of life
  • any joint pain they had, it’s severity and location
  • any other medical conditions they had
The researchers looked at the results of the questionnaires. 
They found:
  • 7 out of 10 women (70%) reported joint or muscle pain, aches or stiffness in the previous 7 days
  • about 3 out of 10 women (30%) reported joint pain aches or stiffness in the previous 7 days
  • quality of life was worse in women who reported these problems
The study establishes that this type of pain happens quite often after breast cancer. And it is linked with a negative impact on quality of life.
The researchers concluded that it is important to better understand these symptoms of pain and the impact it has on women’s lives. This can help healthcare professionals to better support these women and provide accurate information to help with treatment decisions. 
There are more publications planned for this research to understand more about what might cause the pain. We hope to add them as they become available. 
We have based this summary on information from the research team. The information they sent us has been reviewed by independent specialists (peer reviewed Open a glossary item) and published in a medical journal. The figures we quote above were provided by the trial team who did the research. We have not analysed the data ourselves.

Recruitment start:

Recruitment end:

How to join a clinical trial

Please note: In order to join a trial you will need to discuss it with your doctor, unless otherwise specified.

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Chief Investigator

Professor Julia Addington-Hall

Supported by

Breast Cancer Campaign
Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC)
NIHR Clinical Research Network: Cancer
University of Southampton

If you have questions about the trial please contact our cancer information nurses

Freephone 0808 800 4040

Last review date

CRUK internal database number:

Oracle - 3509

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Caroline took part in a clinical trial for breast cancer

“I had treatment last year and I want to give something back.”

Last reviewed:

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