Treatment could help breast cancer patients and menopausal women, study finds
THURSDAY, May 15 (HealthDay News) -- An injection of a local anesthetic into the nerves of the neck that regulate temperature could give breast cancer patients long-term relief from hot flashes and sleep deprivation, a new study suggests.
Severe hot flashes often accompany treatment for breast cancer, especially among women taking anti-estrogen drugs. These hot flashes can become so severe that women stop taking their medication at the risk of the cancer returning. In fact, more than 50 percent of these women stop taking their medication after 180 days, researchers report.
"Breast cancer survivors can have very severe hot flashes, and this modality of treatment seems to resolve that without the usual problems of hormone treatments," said lead researcher Dr. Eugene Lipov, medical director at Advanced Pain Centers in Hoffman Estates, Ill.
In the future, this could be how all hot flashes are treated, Lipov said. "Fifty million older women in the United States have hot flashes, not just breast cancer survivors, but menopausal women," he said. "Five million of these women have severe hot flashes."
The current treatments for hot flashes, including estrogen, all have dangers associated with them or are ineffective, Lipov said. "This is a safe approach that works very quickly and can last for up to three years," he said. "The average response time is three to eight months."
The report is published in the June issue of The Lancet Oncology.
In the study, Lipov's team treated 13 breast cancer survivors who had severe hot flashes, using a stellate-ganglion block. The researchers evaluated the number of hot flashes and the quality of the women's sleep one week before the injection and every week thereafter for 12 weeks.
The researchers found that the total number of hot flashes dropped from an average of
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