Menopause is a time when women suffer from
uncomfortable symptoms like hot flushes and night sweats. The symptoms arise
due to a sudden change in estrogen levels during this period. Sometimes, these
symptoms are avoided by taking hormone replacement therapies.
In women who have had breast cancer in the past,
hormone replacement therapies are not advised. In addition, chemotherapy and
other medications used for breast cancer treatment could also worsen symptoms.
So how can these women avoid menopausal symptoms? A number of methods like
yoga, acupuncture and exercise have been tried out for these symptoms. A study
suggested that one of the ways in which this can be dealt with is by using group
cognitive behavioral treatment.
What is cognitive behavioral treatment? Cognitive behavioral treatment or CBT is a
psychological treatment that emphasizes the need to change our way of thinking
in order to feel better. It is a form of counseling to help people think
differently and respond to stressful situations more effectively.
In a study on 96 breast cancer survivors, the
efficacy of group CBT on improving menopausal symptoms like hot flushes and
night sweats was studied. Forty-seven women received cognitive behavioral
therapy whereas 49 women received usual care. One CBT session of 90 minutes was
conducted per week for 6 weeks. It included psycho-education, paced breathing,
and cognitive and behavioral strategies to manage the menopausal symptoms. The
patients were assessed at the baseline, at 9 weeks and 26 weeks during the
The study found that CBT reduced menopausal symptoms
of hot flushes and night sweats significantly in women undergoing CBT as
compared to women undergoing usual care. The benefits of the treatment were
maintained at 26 weeks. Besides treating the symptoms of menopause, CBT also
improved mood, sleep and quality of life in the patients.
Thus, CBT can
be considered as a safe and effective treatment in breast cancer patients
struggling with symptoms of menopause like hot flushes and night sweats.
1. Cognitive behavioural treatment for women who have menopausal
symptoms after breast cancer treatment (MENOS 1): a randomised controlled
trial; Eleanor Mann et al; The Lancet Oncology 2012.