Hot flushes in breast cancer patients

Constantijne H. Mom, Ciska Buijs, Pax H.B. Willemse, Marian J.E. Mourits, Elisabeth G.E. De Vries*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review


Objectives: A literature search was conducted to gather information concerning the pathophysiologic mechanisms leading to hot flushes, their prevalence and severity in breast cancer patients, their influence on quality of life, and the best therapeutic option. Methods: Relevant studies in English were selected from Medline. Results and conclusion: Pathophysiologic mechanisms leading to hot flushes are poorly understood. Estrogen withdrawal is considered to have a central role. Also, serotonin and norepinephrine seem to be involved in hot flush induction. Menopause induced by chemotherapy or ovarian ablation, is accompanied by an abrupt decrease in estrogen level, causing vasomotor symptoms. Hot flushes are also a side effect of tamoxifen and aromatase inhibitors. Quality of life in breast cancer patients may be negatively influenced by hot flushes, and therefore, adequate treatment is important. Currently, of the several non-hormonal options, the selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) venlafaxine is the most effective in breast cancer patients. However, studies on interaction between SSRIs and tamoxifen may influence future recommendations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-77
Number of pages15
JournalCritical Reviews in Oncology/Hematology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2006

Cite this