Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Effectively Treats Breast Cancer Treatment-Associated Hot Flushes, Night Sweats

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(ChemotherapyAdvisor) – For women who have problematic hot flushes and night sweats following treatment for breast cancer, group cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) was found to be safe and effective, investigators reported in a study published in The Lancet Oncology online February 15. Additional benefits were observed in mood, sleep, and quality of life.

“The treatment could be incorporated into breast-cancer survivorship programs and delivered by trained breast-cancer nurses,” the authors wrote. Hormone therapy is often undesirable or contraindicated for hot flushes and night sweats, which affect 65% to 85% of women after breast-cancer treatment.

The investigators recruited 96 women from breast clinics who had a minimum of 10 episodes of hot flushes and night sweats per week. Participants were randomly allocated to receive either usual care (n=49) or usual care plus group CBT (n=47).

Usual care was defined as having access to nurses and oncologists, survivorship telephone support programs, and cancer support services. Group CBT comprised one 90-minute session per week for six weeks and included psycho-education, paced breathing, and cognitive and behavioral strategies to manage hot flushes and night sweats.

Participants were assessed at baseline, 9 weeks, and 26 weeks following randomization. Scores (out of 10) for CBT declined from an initial average of 6.5 to 3.5 at 9 weeks (46% reduction; (P<0.0001) and to 3.1 at 26 weeks (52% reduction); equivalent usual care scores were 6.1, 5.0 and 4.6 (representing reductions of 19% and 25%). No CBT-related adverse events were recorded.

An accompanying comment notes, “results of this study provide solid evidence on which to base recommendations for the use of cognitive restructuring techniques in the effective management of menopausal symptoms in breast-cancer survivors.”


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