Cognitive behavioral therapy helps to reduce menopausal symptoms in breast cancer survivors, according to a recent study.
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.
AdvertisementIn 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 treatment.
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.