Night Sweats Reduced With Behavioral Therapy

Breast cancer recovery boosted with cognitive behavioral therapy

(RxWiki News) Women recovering from breast cancer are often haunted by hot flashes, night sweats and other delightful symptoms of menopause. A surprising solution, normally associated with mental wellness, has been found to help.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) helps women deal with annoying physical symptoms in the aftermath of breast cancer. CBT improves mood, sleep and overall quality of life, while reducing hot flashes and night sweats, according to a new study.

"Seek individual or group therapy after battling cancer."

Professor Myra Hunter, of King's College London, Institute of Psychiatry led the study involving 96 women how had problems with hot flashes and night sweats (HFNS).

The women were randomly selected to receive either the usual care, or usual care plus CBT. Usual care includes having access to nurses and oncologists, along with telephone and cancer support services.

The women in the CBT group attended one 90-minute group therapy session for six weeks. The sessions included paced breathing, education, and cogitative and behavioral strategies to manage HFNS.

Assessments were taken at the beginning of the study, at nine weeks and again at 26 weeks.

The women participating in CBT reported significantly more reductions in symptoms than the women who received only usual care. These improvements were seen both at nine weeks and also 26 weeks.

The CBT group reported at average reductions of HFNW 46 percent at nine weeks and 52 percent at 26 weeks. The women who received usual care, had reductions of 19 percent and 25 percent.

The authors conclude, "These reductions were sustained and associated with improvements in mood, sleep, and quality of life. Group CBT seems to be a safe, acceptable, and effective treatment option which can be incorporated into breast cancer survivorship programs and delivered by trained breast cancer nurses."

In a linked Comment, Holly G. Prigerson, M.D., of the Center for Psycho-Oncology and Palliative Care Research at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, said "results of this study provide solid evidence on which to base recommendations for the use of cognitive restructuring techniques in the effective management of menopausal symptoms in breast cancer survivors."

This research was published February 14, 2012 Online First by The Lancet Oncology.

The study was funded by Cancer Research UK. No author disclosed any conflicts of interest.