Cognitive behavioural treatment for women who have menopausal symptoms after breast cancer treatment (MENOS 1): a randomised controlled trial

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Hot flushes and night sweats (HFNS) affect 65–85% of women after breast cancer treatment; they are distressing, causing sleep problems and decreased quality of life. Hormone replacement therapy is often either undesirable or contraindicated. Safe, effective non-hormonal treatments are needed. We investigated whether cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can help breast cancer survivors to effectively manage HFNS.

In this randomised controlled trial, we recruited women from breast clinics in London, UK, who had problematic HFNS (minimum ten problematic episodes a week) after breast-cancer treatment. Participants were randomly allocated to receive either usual care or usual care plus group CBT (1:1). Randomisation was done in blocks of 12–20 participants, stratifying by age (younger than 50 years, 50 years or older), and was done with a computer-generated sequence. The trial statistician and researchers collecting outcome measures were masked to group allocation. Group CBT comprised one 90 min session a week for 6 weeks, and included psycho-education, paced breathing, and cognitive and behavioural strategies to manage HFNS. Assessments were done at baseline, 9 weeks, and 26 weeks after randomisation. The primary outcome was the adjusted mean difference in HFNS problem rating (1–10) between CBT and usual care groups at 9 weeks after randomisation. Analysis of the primary endpoint was done by modified intention to treat. The trial is registered, ISRCTN13771934, and was closed March 15, 2011.

Between May 5, 2009, and Aug 27, 2010, 96 women were randomly allocated to group CBT (n=47) or usual care (n=49). Group CBT significantly reduced HFNS problem rating at 9 weeks after randomisation compared with usual care (mean difference −1·67, 95% CI −2·43 to −0·91; p<0·0001) and improvements were maintained at 26 weeks (mean difference −1·76, −2·54 to −0·99; p<0·0001). We recorded no CBT-related adverse events.

Group CBT seems to be a safe and effective treatment for women who have problematic HFNS after breast cancer treatment with additional benefits to mood, sleep, and quality of life. The treatment could be incorporated into breast cancer survivorship programmes and delivered by trained breast cancer nurses.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)309 - 318
Number of pages10
JournalThe Lancet Oncology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2012


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