Vasomotor symptoms in early breast cancer—a “real world” exploration of the patient experience Journal Articles uri icon

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  • BACKGROUND: Despite the frequency of vasomotor symptoms (VMS) in patients with early breast cancer (EBC), their optimal management remains unknown. A patient survey was performed to determine perspectives on this important clinical challenge. METHODS: Patients with EBC experiencing VMS participated in an anonymous survey. Patients reported on the frequency and severity of VMS using the validated Hot Flush Rating Scale (HFRS) and ranked their most bothersome symptoms. Respondents were also asked to determine endpoints that defined effective treatment of VMS and report on the effectiveness of previously tried interventions. RESULTS: Responses were received from 373 patients, median age 56 years (range 23-83), who experienced an average of 5.0 hot flashes per day (SD 6.57). Patients reported the most bothersome symptoms to be feeling hot/sweating (155/316, 49%) and sleeping difficulties (86/316, 27%). Fifty-five percent (201/365) of patients would consider a treatment to be effective if it reduced night-time awakenings. While 68% of respondents were interested in trying interventions from their healthcare team to manage VMS, only 18% actually did so. Of the 137 patients who had tried an intervention for VMS, pharmacological treatments, exercise, and relaxation strategies were more likely to be effective, while therapies such as melatonin and black cohosh were deemed less effective. CONCLUSION: VMS are a common and bothersome problem for EBC patients, with a minority receiving interventions to manage these symptoms. Further research is needed to identify patient-centered strategies for managing these distressing symptoms.


  • Cole, Katherine Marie
  • Clemons, Mark
  • Alzahrani, Mashari
  • Liu, Michelle
  • Larocque, Gail
  • MacDonald, Fiona
  • Hutton, Brian
  • Piper, Ardelle
  • Fernandes, Ricardo
  • Pond, Gregory
  • Vandermeer, Lisa
  • Emam, Khaled El
  • McGee, Sharon F

publication date

  • May 2022