Developing patient-centred strategies to optimize the management of vasomotor symptoms in breast cancer patients: a survey of health care providers
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PURPOSE: Vasomotor symptoms (VMS) such as hot flashes and night sweats are common in breast cancer patients and can affect both quality of life and treatment adherence. However, there is limited practical data to guide clinicians in the optimal selection of therapeutic strategies. A survey of health care providers was performed to better understand perspectives and prescribing practices for managing this problem. METHODS: Canadian health care providers who treat patients with early stage breast cancer (EBC) participated in an anonymous electronic survey. Participants provided their perspectives on the prevalence and severity of VMS among patients with EBC, outlined their management strategies, and provided feedback on the perceived efficacy of interventions for VMS. RESULTS: Responses were received from 65 providers including breast oncologists (36/65, 55%) and nurses with oncology expertise (29/65, 45%). Seventy-seven percent of participants reported regularly asking patients about VMS, and most indicated that bothersome VMS occurred in the majority of patients. Health care providers cited hot flash severity and sleep disruption as the most important issues for patients. The most common first- and second-line interventions recommended were lifestyle modifications (n = 32/65, 49.2%) and pharmacologic strategies (n = 27/65, 41.5%), respectively. Most respondents felt that interventions, including pharmacologic, over-the-counter, and complementary therapies, were only "somewhat effective". Overall, half of respondents (n = 35/65, 54%) reported being "confident" in managing VMS. CONCLUSION: Given the variability of treatment recommendations, and health care provider uncertainty around the benefits of therapies for VMS, more 'real-world' trials are needed to optimize patient care.