Hypnosis may relieve hot flashes in breast cancer survivors

November 7, 2008

Hypnosis may be beneficial in reducing hot flashes in breast cancer survivors, according to research published online Sept. 22 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology

Hypnosis may be beneficial in reducing hot flashes in breast cancer survivors, according to research published online Sept. 22 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Gary Elkins, PhD, of Baylor University in Waco, Texas, and colleagues analyzed data from 60 women with a history of breast cancer but no detectable disease and a history of at least 14 hot flashes per week for at least a month. Women were randomized to receive five weekly hypnosis sessions or no treatment, and 51 subjects completed the study.

In the treatment arm, participants’ hot flash scores--a measure of frequency and average severity--fell 68 percent from baseline to the end of the study, and the no-treatment group showed little improvement, the researchers report. The hypnosis group also showed significant improvement in anxiety, sleep, and interference of hot flashes with daily activities.

“Mind-body and behavioral approaches to reducing vasomotor symptoms are attractive interventions for survivors of breast cancer. They convey minimal or no risk, have no adverse effects, and are generally low cost,” writes Nancy E. Avis, PhD, of Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C., in an accompanying editorial. “Adverse events and adverse effects such as vasomotor symptoms are the main reason for non-adherence to endocrine treatment, and interventions aimed at reducing adverse effects are needed. Mind-body approaches provide potentially safe and effective interventions to reduce vasomotor symptoms and are particularly appropriate for survivors of breast cancer.”

Elkins G, Marcus J, Stearns V, et al. Randomized trial of a hypnosis intervention for treatment of hot flashes among breast cancer survivors. J Clin Oncol. 2008:1;26:5022-5026.