In a nutshell
This study aimed to investigate the frequency and severity of the adverse events associated with non-hormonal drugs (NHD) used to treat hot flashes in breast cancer survivor patients.
This study concluded that the use of high-dose NHD led to increased rates of adverse events when compared to patients not using NHD.
ER positive breast cancers are those dependent on the hormone estrogen for growth. These patients are generally treated with therapies that block the production of estrogen. These treatments slow or stop the growth of cancer. However, a common side effect or adverse event (AE) of this treatment is hot flashes. Hot flashes involve the feeling of heat, a red face and sweating. NHD can be used to treat hot flashes. Examples of NHD are venlafaxine (Effexor) and gabapentin (Neurontin).
It was unknown if the use of high doses of NHD led to increased rates of AE when compared to patients who used alternative treatment methods for hot flashes (such as acupuncture) or did not use treatment at all.
Methods & findings
This study reviewed the data from 12 studies including 1467 patients. Patients treated with NHD such as venlafaxine and gabapentin were compared to patients treated with placebo, low-dose medications, or acupuncture (control group).
There were 772 reported AEs. 81% of these AEs were in the NHD group and 19% were in the control group. 67% of the AEs were mild and 33% were moderate. Common AEs included appetite problems, nausea, dry mouth, fatigue, dizziness, and headache, among others.
A significantly increased frequency of AE was seen for the NHD groups when compared to placebo groups. It was also found that higher doses of NHD led to increased AE frequency and severity when compared to control groups.
The bottom line
This study concluded that patients treated with high dose NHD had a higher risk of AE when compared to the patients in the control groups. The authors suggest that low-dose medication and acupuncture could be considered a treatment alternative.
The fine print
This is the first study of its kind and further research is needed.
Discuss alternative options to NHD with your physician.
Published By :
Breast Cancer Research and Treatment
Oct 05, 2016
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