World Bulletin / News Desk
Younger women who are thrust into menopause because of breast cancer treatment may get some relief from talk therapy and regular exercise, according to a study from the Netherlands.
Menopause symptoms such as hot flashes often come on gradually for women who go through natural menopause, as the body's production of hormones slowly dwindles. But that's not often the case for women diagnosed with breast cancer and treated with chemotherapy and other potent drugs.
"Oftentimes with women with breast cancer who experience treatment-induced menopause, the symptoms are much more severe than in natural menopause," said Neil Aaronson from The Netherlands Cancer Institute in Amsterdam, who worked on the study.
In addition, those women can't take replacement hormones to ease the symptoms, an effective but controversial treatment for menopause-related symptoms, since the hormones can put them at risk for a cancer recurrence.
For the study, which appeared in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, Aaronson and his colleagues randomly assigned 422 women with breast cancer and treatment-induced menopause to one of four groups.
One group went to six weekly therapy sessions, another consulted with physiotherapists and started tailored exercise programs, a third did both therapy and exercise and the final group was put on a waitlist.
The type of group treatment, known as cognitive behavioral therapy, included relaxation exercises and addressed symptoms as well as body image and sexuality issues.
Six months later, women in the talk therapy, exercise and combined groups reported an improvement in treatment-related symptoms, each gaining about five points on a 73-point scale compared to fewer than two points among waitlisters.
Women who'd had therapy also said they were bothered less by their hot flashes and night sweats, though they had them just as often.
"With the cognitive behavioral therapy, we were primarily targeting the subjective experience of the symptoms, and helping women to cope with the symptoms," Aaronson told Reuters Health.
For women who have been treated for breast cancer and have menopause-related symptoms, antidepressants and other medications may also offer some help. But by that point, Aaronson said, many women aren't interested in taking any more drugs or dealing with any more potential side effects.
He and his colleagues are working on translating the therapy sessions into an online program that people can do on their own time.
"More research is needed on behavioral interventions such as relaxation therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy to understand more about how these things are helpful and for whom," said Debra Barton from the Mayo Clinic, who co-wrote an editorial accompanying the article.
"However, so far the data appear very promising."
MSF is discussing whether to shorten some Ebola assignments from their current duration of four to six weeks
The recent surge in cases, now numbering 32 since the start of October, has been focused in Riyadh and the western city of Taif
The meeting organized by ALBA, a bloc of leftist-governed countries, aims to coordinate a regional strategy on the prevention and control of Ebola
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has voiced his regret that health workers returning from Ebola-stricken countries in West Africa were quarantined.
In a research carried out in the U.S. reveals alarming findings about spending on illicit drugs -over $100 billion
The Township Owl Project takes juvenile birds rescued from perilous situations, such as when a building where they nested in is demolished, and gives them a new home and a new job
The three worst-hit countries of West Africa - Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone - account for the bulk, recording 4,912 deaths out of 10,114 cases
There are 883 confirmed cases of the deadly virus, out of which 319 people have died since 2012, the WHO says
WHO announces one million doses of Ebola vaccine to be produced in 2015
That pact would aim to improve on two decades of stuttering cooperation and rein in emissions of carbon dioxide blamed for a disruptive rise in temperatures
The World Health Organization last month urged the use of blood-derived products and serum from survivors.
Pentagon rapid-response Ebola medical team was scheduled to begin training at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas
Extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR-TB), which is even more expensive and difficult to treat than multi drug-resistant (MDR-TB) strains, has now been reported in 100 countries around the world.
Device can be used in the field without special equipment, according to developers
The technique involved transplanting what are known as olfactory ensheathing cells into the patient's spinal cord and constructing a "nerve bridge" between two stumps of the damaged spinal column.
The meeting in Cuba is aimed at keeping Ebola at bay and it brings together senior officials from the ALBA bloc of nations