The menopausal symptom experience in young mid-life women with breast cancer.Cancer Nurs 2001; 24(3):201-10; quiz 210-1CN
Menopausal symptoms are important concerns for breast cancer survivors, which may influence daily activities, physical comfort and sexual health. Incidence and severity ratings of menopausal symptoms contribute to our knowledge about menopause in women with cancer, but fail to fully describe the symptom experience. The purpose of this article is to broaden our understanding by describing variation in menopausal symptom distress and how women interpret and manage symptoms within the context of breast cancer. From a larger grounded theory study that explored women's responses to the experience of premature induced menopause within the context of breast cancer, the constant comparative method of analysis was used to generate a detailed contextually grounded description of the menopausal symptom experience in a sample of 27 women with breast cancer who received adjuvant therapy. Women identified a symptom profile of menstrual cycle changes, hot flashes, insomnia, vaginal dryness, dyspareunia, alterations in mood, cognition and libido, and weight gain. The majority of women reported menopausal symptoms but some women were distress free while others reported moderate to severe distress. The context of breast cancer influenced women's response to symptoms and their decision making about menopausal symptom management.