John Libbey Eurotext

Bulletin du Cancer


Treatment of hot flashes in women with a previous diagnosis of breast cancer Volume 91, issue 4, Avril 2004


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Service de médecine interne, Hôpital Desgenettes, 108, boulevard Pinel, 69003 Lyon Centre Léon‐Bérard, 28, rue Laennec 69373 Lyon Cedex 08 UHIM, hôpital Édouard‐Herriot, 1, place d’Arsonval, 69003 Lyon Service d’oncologie médicale, Hôpital Tenon, 2, rue de la Chine, 75020 Paris

Due to the huge prescription of adjuvant chemotherapy and hormonotherapy, the number of breast cancer survivors with hot flashes is to raise. Hormone replacement therapy is typically withheld from women with previous breast cancer. Treatment should begin with a careful patient history, with specific attention to the frequency and severity of hot flashes and their effect on the individual’s function. For mild symptoms that do not interfere with sleep or daily activity, behavioural changes or treatments like soy phyto‐oetrogens or vitamin E could be a reasonable initial approach. For more severe symptoms, several alternative substances have therefore been investigated. The use of clonidine and gabapentine should be discouraged because of their modest efficacy and adverse effects. Newer antidepressants (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) that are the best studied drugs to date, appear promising as therapy for women with hot flashes. The decrease in hot flashes achieved with progestational agents is similar to that seen with oestrogen therapy but there is debate about the safety of long term use of progestational agents in patients with a history of breast cancer. If hot flashes are particularly troublesome and do not respond to alternative approaches, quality of life must be balanced against theoretical risk of tumour promotion before choosing to use hormone replacement therapy to control these symptoms. ▾