Hot flashes can be a major problem for patients with a history of breast cancer. The precipitation of menopause in premenopausal women who undergo chemotherapy for breast cancer can lead to the rapid onset of hot flash symptoms that are more frequent and more severe than those associated with natural menopause. In addition, tamoxifen, historically the most commonly prescribed pharmacologic agent for the treatment of breast cancer, is associated with hot flashes in more than 50% of its users. Although estrogen relieves hot flashes in 80-90% of women who initiate treatment, its use in women with a history of breast cancer is controversial, and most physicians in the community will not use this treatment modality. In addition, the results of the long-awaited Women's Health Initiative study and other recent studies suggest that long-term estrogen therapy should not be recommended for most women for a variety of reasons. However, hot flashes in breast cancer survivors should no longer be considered untreatable, as there are many pharmacologic and nonpharmacologic treatments that can help alleviate this problem. This article reviews the current strategies for the management of hot flashes in breast cancer survivors and the evidence supporting their use.
- Breast cancer antidepressants
- Hot flashes
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Internal Medicine