Menopausal symptoms in women treated for breast cancer: the prevalence and severity of symptoms and their perceived effects on quality of life.Climacteric 2006; 9(1):49-58C
To determine, first, the prevalence and severity of various symptoms related to estrogen deficiency in women within a few years of receiving treatment for breast cancer, second, how women perceive the effects of these symptoms on their quality of life and, third, what measures have been taken to relieve vasomotor symptoms.
Two hundred women (aged 29-65 years) who had received treatment for breast cancer within the last 5 years were included in this cross-sectional survey. Information was collected about their breast cancer treatment, menopausal symptoms (Menopausal Rating Scale), the perceived effects of menopausal symptoms on their and their partner's quality of life and any treatments they were receiving for hot flushes.
All but one woman reported at least one symptom related to the menopause (95.9% vasomotor; 83.3% psychological; 89.7% somatic). Current treatment with tamoxifen or previous chemotherapy did not influence the prevalence or the severity of hot flushes. Current antidepressant treatment was, however, significantly associated with a higher prevalence and severity of most menopausal symptoms, including hot flushes and sweats (p = 0.008). The severity of hot flushes and sweats was significantly correlated with self-assessed effects on overall quality of life (r(s) = 0.47); 56.4% of the respondents believed that menopausal symptoms had affected their partner's quality of life, the strongest correlations being with severity of sexual symptoms (r(s) = 0.56) and vaginal dryness (r(s) = 0.5). Only 21% of women experiencing hot flushes were receiving any treatment for hot flushes, with most women describing no knowledge or poor knowledge of treatment options.
The majority of women receiving treatment for breast cancer report menopausal symptoms, which negatively correlate, not only with their own, but also with their partner's quality of life. Most women experiencing hot flushes are not receiving treatment due to lack of both awareness and confidence in the existing treatment options.