Impact of hot flashes on quality of life among postmenopausal women being treated for breast cancer.
Hot flashes are among the most commonly reported symptoms among women who have completed treatment for breast cancer. Relatively little is known, however, about hot flashes among women while they are undergoing breast cancer treatment. The present study investigated the prevalence and severity of hot flashes of women during chemotherapy and radiotherapy for breast cancer. We also sought to identify the medical, demographic, and treatment correlates of hot flashes during treatment and to document the impact of hot flashes on quality of life. Seventy postmenopausal women with breast cancer completed a self-report questionnaire packet during chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Forty percent (n = 28) reported hot flashes during the week prior to assessment. Of the 28 women endorsing hot flashes, 25% (n = 7) rated them as severe, 39% (n = 11) rated them as moderate, and 36% (n = 10) rated them as mild. Women with hot flashes were significantly (p < 0.05) younger and reported significantly (p < 0.001) more fatigue, poorer sleep quality, and poorer physical health compared to women without hot flashes. Multivariate analyses revealed that, even after controlling for relevant medical, demographic, and treatment variables, the prevalence of hot flashes significantly (p < 0.05) predicted poorer sleep quality, more fatigue, and worse physical health. The results indicate that hot flashes are experienced by a sizable percentage of postmenopausal breast cancer patients as they undergo treatment. Hot flashes during cancer treatment appear to have a negative impact upon patient quality of life that may be due, in part, to fatigue and interference with sleep. Future research should seek to evaluate interventions to relieve hot flashes during breast cancer treatment as a means of improving patient quality of life.
Stein, KD; Jacobsen, PB; Hann, DM; Greenberg, H; Lyman, G
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