From perimenopause through postmenopause, the most common symptoms include irregular menstruation, hot flashes, and night sweats. Every woman will experience these menopausal symptoms differently. However, research shows that women who survive cancer, in particular, have more frequent, severe, and bothersome hot flashes than other women with menopausal symptoms. Women who survive cancer also report better emotional and social well-being, compared to women without cancer.
A large scale study including 934 cancer survivors and 155 female participants without cancer assessed hot flashes and other menopause-related symptoms and sexual function. 90% of the cancer survivors were afflicted by breast cancer. The study took place in Western Australia and used standard questionnaires.
Hot flashes were much more frequent and severe in cancer survivors; approximately 76% reported having hot flashes over the course of 24 hours, compared to 54% in women without cancer. Also, 60% cancer survivors reported hot flashes as severe or very severe, compared to 40% women without cancer.
In addition to these findings, cancer survivors were less troubled by psychological and physical symptoms. Cancer survivors reported better quality of life, less severe mood swings or sadness, and better social well-being than women without cancer. The findings could possibly be the result of good psychological and social support available for cancer survivors.
The findings of this study highlight that all menopausal women, including cancer survivors, need effective treatment options for their hot flashes. To read more about the treatment options available for menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, visit Northwestern's menopause website here.