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Study finds solution to hot flushes in cancer survivors

Stellate-ganglion block relieves patients of hot flushes and sleep deprivation

OnMedica Staff

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Giving breast cancer survivors a stellate-ganglion block —an injection into the nerves of the neck which regulates temperature—could provide these patients with long-term relief from both hot flushes and sleep deprivation.

These are the conclusions of authors of a pilot study in an article published early online and in the June edition of The Lancet Oncology.

Hot flushes are a frequent and serious side-effect of drug treatments for breast cancer. In survivors of breast cancer taking anti-oestrogen medications, hot flushes can even contribute to cancer recurrence by discouraging compliance with treatment programmes.

Data show that more than 50% of such patients might be non-compliant after 180 days.

Dr Eugene Lipov and Dr Jay Joshi, of Advanced Pain Centers, Hoffman Estates, Illinois, USA, and colleagues did a pilot study of 13 survivors of breast cancer with severe hot flushes. Each was treated with stellate-ganglion block.

After treatment the total number of hot flushes decreased from a mean of 79.4 per patient per week (pppw) before the procedure to a mean of 49.9 pppw during the first 2 weeks after the procedure. This number continued to decrease in weeks 3–12, and stabilised at a mean of 8.1 hot flushes pppw. The number of very severe hot flushes decreased to near zero by the end of week 12.

Night awakenings decreased from a mean of 19.5 pppw before the procedure to a mean of 7.3 pppw during the first two weeks after the procedure and continued to decrease over the remaining follow-up period and stabilised at a mean of 1.4 pppw.

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