The researchers believe that the CBT reduces stress levels and helps women cope effectively with the symptoms they are experiencing. Physical exercise is intended to reduce hot flushes through an effect on the thermoregulatory system. "There was already evidence that both interventions were effective in women undergoing the natural menopause," says Dr. van Beurden's colleague, Dr. Hester van Oldenburg. "We are pleased to have established that they also work in women with induced menopause, which is significantly more difficult for patients to deal with both because it is caused by cancer treatment, which is distressing in itself, and because the symptoms often come on so quickly that there is little or no time to get used to them."
Patients said that participation in the CBT programme made them more aware of their symptoms and how to deal with them. "Before, I more or less accepted them unconsciously. Now I'm more alert about my symptoms, their effect, and possible ways to cope with them. By sharing my experiences with others, I've learned to put my symptoms in perspective and to cope with them," said one participant.
While the evidence that the interventions worked was convincing, compliance with them was poor, the researchers say. In the case of CBT, it was difficult to schedule the group sessions at a time that was convenient for women who often had both work and parenting responsibilities. The frequency and intensity of the PE programme was also a challenge for many women.
"We think that we have made an important step forward in improving the quality of life of these patients," Dr. van Beurden will say. "Based on input from patients, w
|Contact: Mary Rice|
ECCO-the European CanCer Organisation