Hot flushes are one of the most distressing conditions faced by women who have been treated for breast cancer, but they are not being adequately addressed by healthcare professionals and some women consider giving up their post cancer medication to try and stop them, a new study has shown.
More than 70 per cent of women who have had breast cancer experience menopausal problems, and hot flushes in particular, which are among the most prevalent and potentially distressing problems following breast cancer treatment.
These can also be long lasting, persisting for more than five years once cancer treatment has ended and affecting all aspects of life, including sleep, social situations, intimate relationships and ability to work.
But research has shown that there are differences between what the patient experiences and what is recognised, and then managed, by healthcare professionals.
Led by Dr Debbie Fenlon at the University of Southampton, the study conducted two surveys with specialist health professionals and women who had been treated for breast cancer.
While clinicians recognised that their patients experienced hot flushes and their quality of life is diminished, the way that they treated the condition was mixed. The majority (94 per cent) of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that hot flushes are an unmet need.
Results from the women's survey showed that they perceived the impact of hot flushes as being much greater than the healthcare professionals reported. The majority of the healthcare professions reported that only 10 to 30 per cent of breast cancer patients have severe hot flushes that affect daily living and quality of sleep.
In contrast, when the women were asked to give a problem rating (one to 10) for their hot flushes in the past week, the majority of respondents rated flushes between six and 10 (out of 10) as to how much of a problem they are and six and 10 (out of 10) for how distressed they were by flushing.
Furthermore, of 666 women who responded to the questionnaire, 94 per cent said that they suffered from hot flushes and 75 per cent rated them as a major problem in their life. However only 25 per cent had ever been spoken to by a health professional about their hot flushes.
Dr Fenlon comments: "It is clear from our surveys that clinicians are left making individual decisions based on personal experience and availability of local services. This has led to a patchy and inequitable position for patients in the management of this troubling problem. There is a need for research to understand the physiology of flushing and to develop and test new interventions to address this intractable problem, which continues to be a cause of considerable distress to many women after breast cancer."
A troubling result from the women's survey was that a third of women having hot flushes considered stopping taking their oestrogen blocking drugs to prevent the flushes from happening.
Dr Fenlon explained: "Endocrine therapies generally work by preventing the production of oestrogen, a hormone that encourages breast cancer to grow and spread. This says much for how bad and distressing hot flushes can be that women are considering not taking their oestrogen blocking drugs to try and stop them.
"There are no agreed guidelines for managing hot flushes after breast cancer, which may limit the access and availability of appropriate interventions. There is also little evidence to support a variety of interventions, none of which are entirely effective at removing hot flushes, other than Hormone Replacement Therapy, which is contraindicated. This needs to be changed to ensure this patient group is not left vulnerable."
The research was carried out by a number of organisations, led by the University of Southampton, alongside Independent Cancer Patients Voices, the University of Warwick, the National Cancer Research Institute, Breast Cancer Care and Breast Cancer Campaign. It has been presented at the National Cancer Research Institute Cancer Conference by Lesley Turner from Independent Cancer Patients Voices, supported by Professor Janet Dunn from the University of Warwick.
Becky Attwood | EurekAlert!
Win-win strategies for climate and food security
02.10.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
The personality factor: How to foster the sharing of research data
06.09.2017 | ZBW – Leibniz-Informationszentrum Wirtschaft
University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event
On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...
Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.
Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....
Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).
When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...
Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.
How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...
Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.
It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...
17.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
20.10.2017 | Information Technology
20.10.2017 | Materials Sciences
20.10.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research