Hot flashes severity, complementary and alternative medicine use, and self-rated health in women with breast cancer.

Author(s): Chandwani KD,  Heckler CE,  Mohile SG,  Mustian KM,  Janelsins M,  Peppone LJ,  Bushunow P,  Flynn PJ,  Morrow GR

Journal: Explore (NY)

Date: 2014 Jul-Aug

Major Program(s) or Research Group(s): NCORP

PubMed ID: 25037667

PMC ID: PMC4325272

Abstract: CONTEXT: Hot flashes (HF) are a common distressing symptom in women with breast cancer (BC). Current pharmacologic options are moderately effective and are associated with bothersome side effects. Complementary and alternative medicine is commonly used by cancer patients. However, information on the association of hot flashes severity with such use and self-rated health is lacking. OBJECTIVE: To examine the hot flashes severity in women with breast cancer and its association with complementary and alternative medicine use and self-rated health (SRH). DESIGN: Longitudinal multicenter study to assess information needs of cancer outpatients. PARTICIPANTS: Patients with a diagnosis of breast cancer who were scheduled to undergo chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy. OUTCOME MEASURES: Hot flashes severity (0 = not present and 10 = as bad as you can imagine), use of complementary and alternative medicine (yes/no), and self-rating of health (SRH) status post-treatment and six-months thereafter (1-5, higher score = better SRH). RESULTS: The majority of women with HF (mean age = 54.4 years) were Caucasian and married, with higher education, and 93% had received surgical treatment for BC. At the end of treatment, 79% women reported experiencing HF [mean severity = 5.87, standard deviation (SD) = 2.9]; significantly more severe HF were reported by younger women with poor SRH, poor performance status, and those reporting doing spiritual practices. At follow-up, 73% had HF (mean severity = 4.86, SD = 3.0), and more severe HF were reported by younger women with poor self-rated health who had undergone chemotherapy plus radiotherapy, used vitamins, and did not exercise. CONCLUSIONS: A high percentage of women experienced hot flashes at the end of treatment and at six-month follow-up. A significant association of hot flashes severity with spiritual practice, increased vitamin use, and reduced exercise emphasize the need for future studies to confirm the results. This can facilitate safe use of complementary and alternative medicine and favorable outcomes while managing cancer-related hot flashes.