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Acupuncture relieves hot flushes in breast cancer patients taking tamoxifen
Date:4/18/2008

Berlin, Germany: Acupuncture provides effective relief from hot flushes in women who are being treated with the anti-oestrogen tamoxifen following surgery for breast cancer, according to new research presented today (Friday) at the 6th European Breast Cancer Conference (EBCC-6) in Berlin.

Mrs Jill Hervik, a physiotherapist and acupuncturist at the Vestfold Central Hospital (Tnsberg, Norway), told a news briefing that breast cancer patients who received traditional Chinese acupuncture had a 50% reduction in hot flushes, both during the day and the night, and that this effect continued after the acupuncture ceased.

Acupuncture is increasingly used in western countries to treat the problem of hot flushes in healthy post-menopausal women, so we wanted to see whether it was effective in women with breast cancer suffering from hot flushes as a result of their anti-oestrogen medication, she said.

Tamoxifen can cause many of the symptoms that occur during the menopause, including hot flushes. For healthy women, hormone replacement therapy has traditionally been used to alleviate symptoms, but it is associated with an increased risk of relapse in women with oestrogen sensitive breast cancers.

In a prospective, single-blind, controlled trial, Mrs Hervik and her supervisor, Dr Odd Mjland, randomised 59 breast cancer patients to receive either ten weeks of traditional Chinese acupuncture or sham (minimal) acupuncture between March 2003 and December 2006. All were taking tamoxifen following surgery and were postmenopausal. She delivered both the real and the sham acupuncture to the patients, and maintained a neutral treatment atmosphere (e.g. no soft music, and minimal time spent talking to the patients) in order to reduce the placebo effect of the treatments.

The patients recorded the number of hot flushes they experienced for four weeks before the treatment, during the treatment and during a 12-week follow-up period. Other meno
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Contact: Emma Mason
wordmason@mac.com
ECCO-the European CanCer Organisation
Source:Eurekalert

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