Taking the heat out of hot flushes

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Mature Woman Experiencing Hot Flush From MenopauseCOSA 2016: Around one in two health practitioners recommend an ineffective complementary remedy to women experiencing common menopausal symptoms following breast cancer treatment, according to a research presented at the Clinical Oncology Society of Australia (COSA) and Australia and New Zealand Breast Cancer Trial Group (ANZBCTG) joint Annual Scientific Meeting (ASM).

Dr Deborah Fenlon, from the University of Southampton, an international keynote speaker, said that hot flushes and menopausal symptoms are a common side effect of cancer treatment.

“Around 70 per cent of breast cancer survivors experience menopausal difficulties after treatment, and of those, around 95 per cent experience hot flushes. As well as being a cause of sleep disturbance and psychological distress, menopausal symptoms are a common reason that women cease taking potentially life-saving hormonal treatments.”

Dr Fenlon’s research shows that health practitioners recognise that there is a lack of information for patients, and often resort to recommending potentially ineffective complementary therapies as a result.

“Around 95 per cent of doctors and nurses working with breast cancer patients believe that hot flushes are an unmet need. In the UK, one in two medical practitioners recommend primrose evening oil to their breast cancer patients, despite evidence suggesting that it’s no more effective than a placebo.”

Dr Fenlon is now leading a randomised controlled trial which aims to train breast care nurses to deliver cognitive behaviour therapy to patients to reduce the impact of hot flushes.

“A previous trial found that 78 per cent of women who had cognitive behaviour therapy training from a breast cancer nurse experienced a clinically significant reduction in their hot flushes. We are now running a larger controlled trial to test the effectiveness in a wider group,” said Professor Fenlon.

We will have commentary from Professor Deborah Fenlon on her work next week. SourceCOSAVisit the COSA ASM website for more information on speakers, abstracts and scheduled presentations.


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The ONA Editor curates oncology news, views and reviews from Australia and around the world for our readers. In aggregated content, original sources will be acknowledged in the article footer.

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