These interventions can be effective in dealing with such distressing symptoms as hot flushes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, weight gain, urinary incontinence and sexual problems, a researcher will tell the 8th European Breast Cancer Conference (EBCC-8) today (Thursday).
Patients said that participation in the CBT programme made them more aware of their symptoms and how to deal with them. "Before, I more or less accepted them unconsciously. Now I'm more alert about my symptoms, their effect, and possible ways to cope with them. By sharing my experiences with others, I've learned to put my symptoms in perspective and to cope with them," said one participant.
While the evidence that the interventions worked was convincing, compliance with them was poor, the researchers say. In the case of CBT, it was difficult to schedule the group sessions at a time that was convenient for women who often had both work and parenting responsibilities. The frequency and intensity of the PE programme was also a challenge for many women.
"We think that we have made an important step forward in improving the quality of life of these patients," Dr. van Beurden will say. "Based on input from patients, we are now developing an internet-based version of the CBT programme. We hope that this will further increase the accessibility and convenience of the interventions and lead to more women benefiting from their results."
Professor David Cameron, from the University of Edinburgh (Edinburgh, UK), and chair of EBCC-8 said: "Menopausal symptoms can often be an added burden of side effects for younger women undergoing treatment for breast cancer. This study is important as it offers evidence that there is a way to intervene to make this less of a problem for women, thus allowing them to get on with their lives after curative therapy for breast cancer."
 Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is an action-oriented form of psychosocial therapy and psycho-education that focuses on changing an individual's thoughts (cognitive patterns) in order to change his or her behaviour and emotional state. In the current study, CBT was combined with relaxation techniques.
 The research was funded by the Dutch Cancer Society, the Integral Cancer Centre Amsterdam, the Pink Ribbon Foundation, and Polar Electro Nederland.
Abstract no: 199, Thursday 10.30 hrs, Proffered Paper session "Implications of Adjuvant Therapy and Toxicity", Hall D
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