Treating Hot Flashes in Breast Cancer Survivors: A Review of Alternative Treatments to Hormone Replacement Therapy
As the number of breast cancer survivors continues to grow, factors associated with quality of life are receiving increased clinical and research attention. This attention is imperative given the aftermath of psychological and physiologic side effects that commonly result from a cancer diagnosis and cancer-related treatments, including menopausal symptoms. Hot flashes, the most prevalent of these symptoms, have been shown to significantly decrease quality of life in women. Although manageable with hormone replacement therapy (HRT), hot flashes often are especially problematic in breast cancer survivors, a population that typically is not treatment with HRT because of controversial evidence of a relationship among estrogen and/or progesterone and breast cancer recurrence and mortality. Furthermore, hot flashes commonly are more severe in premenopausal women who experience acute menopause as a result of chemotherapy treatment. In recent years, several treatment alternatives to HRT have been investigated. Given the significant number of women affected by breast cancer and the negative impact that hot flashes can have on their quality of life, this article reviews alternatives to HRT for reducing hot flash symptoms in breast cancer survivors.