Cognitive behavioral therapy is safe, effective for women having hot flushes, night sweats following breast cancer treat

February 14, 2012

Hot flushes and night sweats (HFNS) affect 65-85% of women after breast cancer treatment; they are distressing, causing sleep problems and decreased quality of life. Hormone replacement therapy is often either undesirable or contraindicated. A new study published Online First by The Lancet Oncology shows that cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a safe and effective treatment for these women, with additional benefits to mood, sleep, and quality of life. Furthermore, CBT could be incorporated into breast cancer survivorship programmes and delivered by trained breast cancer nurses, conclude the authors, led by Professor Myra Hunter, King's College London, Institute of Psychiatry, London, UK. The study was funded by Cancer Research UK.

In this , the authors recruited 96 women from breast clinics in London, UK, who had problematic HFNS (minimum ten problematic episodes a week) after breast-cancer treatment. Participants were randomly allocated to receive either usual care (49) or usual care plus group CBT (47). Group CBT comprised one 90 min session a week for 6 weeks, and included psycho-education, paced breathing, and cognitive and behavioural strategies to manage HFNS. Assessments were done at baseline, 9 weeks, and 26 weeks after randomisation. The primary outcome was the adjusted mean difference in HFNS problem rating (1-10) between CBT and usual care groups at 9 weeks after randomisation. Usual care is having access to nurses and oncologists, as well as survivorship telephone support programmes and cancer support services.

The authors found that group CBT significantly reduced HFNS problem rating at 9 weeks after randomisation compared with usual care. Encouragingly, these improvements were maintained at 26 weeks. Scores out of 10 for CBT declined from an initial average of 6.5 to 3.5 at 9 weeks (46% reduction) 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%).

The authors conclude: "Our findings show that group CBT can reduce the effect of hot flushes and night sweats for women who have had breast cancer treatment. These reductions were sustained and associated with improvements in mood, sleep, and quality of life. Group CBT seems to be a safe, acceptable, and effective treatment option which can be incorporated into breast programmes and delivered by trained breast cancer nurses."

In a linked Comment, Dr Holly G Prigerson, Center for Psycho-Oncology and Palliative Care Research, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, MA, USA, says: "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 survivors."

She adds: "The adaptation of the examined face-to-face, group CBT intervention to an online, CBT-based self-management intervention might be more cost-effective, offer greater flexibility in the timing and location of participation, enhance access, and potentially prove more sustainable."

Professor Hunter is currently working on a study to develop a CBT online strategy specifically for women who have had , with colleagues in the Netherlands.

Explore further: Adding cognitive behavioral therapy to drug treatment of pediatric OCD appears to improve symptoms

More information: www.thelancet.com/journals/lan … (11)70364-3/abstract

Related Stories

Adding cognitive behavioral therapy to drug treatment of pediatric OCD appears to improve symptoms

September 20, 2011
Children and teens with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) who were receiving some benefit from treatment with medication had a significantly greater reduction in OCD symptoms with the addition of cognitive behavior therapy, ...

Talking therapy over the phone improves symptoms of chronic widespread pain

November 14, 2011
Patients who received a short course of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) over the telephone from trained therapists reported that they felt "better" or "very much better" at the end of a six-month treatment period, and ...

Recommended for you

Stem cell therapy attacks cancer by targeting unique tissue stiffness

July 26, 2017
A stem cell-based method created by University of California, Irvine scientists can selectively target and kill cancerous tissue while preventing some of the toxic side effects of chemotherapy by treating the disease in a ...

Understanding cell segregation mechanisms that help prevent cancer spread

July 26, 2017
Scientists have uncovered how cells are kept in the right place as the body develops, which may shed light on what causes invasive cancer cells to migrate.

Study uncovers potential 'silver bullet' for preventing and treating colon cancer

July 26, 2017
In preclinical experiments, researchers at VCU Massey Cancer Center have uncovered a new way in which colon cancer develops, as well as a potential "silver bullet" for preventing and treating it. The findings may extend to ...

Compound shows promise in treating melanoma

July 26, 2017
While past attempts to treat melanoma failed to meet expectations, an international team of researchers are hopeful that a compound they tested on both mice and on human cells in a petri dish takes a positive step toward ...

Study may explain failure of retinoic acid trials against breast cancer

July 25, 2017
Estrogen-positive breast cancers are often treated with anti-estrogen therapies. But about half of these cancers contain a subpopulation of cells marked by the protein cytokeratin 5 (CK5), which resists treatment—and breast ...

Breaking the genetic resistance of lung cancer and melanoma

July 25, 2017
Researchers from Monash University and the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC, New York) have discovered why some cancers – particularly lung cancer and melanoma – are able to quickly develop deadly resistance ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.