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Health & Fitness: CBT can reduce ‘overwhelming’ menopausal symptoms for breast cancer patients, trial reveals

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Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) delivered by nurses can reduce “overwhelming” menopausal symptoms for women with breast cancer, a new clinical trial reveals.

a screen shot of a computer: Women with breast cancer, who received six weeks of group CBT from a breast care nurse, reported that their menopausal symptoms, such as such as hot flushes and night sweats, became significantly less distressing and less problematic.  (Photo: Rui Vieira/PA Wire) © Provided by The i Women with breast cancer, who received six weeks of group CBT from a breast care nurse, reported that their menopausal symptoms, such as such as hot flushes and night sweats, became significantly less distressing and less problematic. (Photo: Rui Vieira/PA Wire)

The Swansea University-led research found that women with breast cancer, who received six weeks of group CBT from a breast care nurse, reported that their menopausal symptoms, such as such as hot flushes and night sweats, became significantly less distressing and less problematic. Their frequency also reduced by over a quarter (28 per cent). This more than doubles the reduction of symptoms reported by women receiving standard care, and often ad hoc advice (11 per cent). Furthermore, for the women who received CBT from a nurse, these life-changing benefits lasted several months.

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Up to 85 per cent of women with breast cancer suffer from hot flushes and night sweats due to chemotherapy and hormone therapy treatments. These side effects are often more extreme and can last longer for women with breast cancer than for women who experience them due to natural menopause.

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) may be offered to relieve menopausal symptoms, but is not usually recommended for women with breast cancer because it may increase their risk of the disease returning, therefore experts said safe and effective alternatives to reduce side effects and ensure quality of life are urgently needed.

Dr Simon Vincent, director of research, support and influencing at Breast Cancer Now, which funded the trial of 127 women, said: “Menopausal symptoms, such as hot flushes and night sweats, can profoundly impact quality of life for women with breast cancer.

“It’s hugely exciting to see that CBT delivered by a breast care nurse can help to spare women, who’ve already had the difficult experience of a breast cancer diagnosis, this further anguish.”

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