Breast cancer and hot flashes: Are there non-estrogen options that work?

July 3, 2015 at 5:58 pm in Healthy Living by Holly Thacker, M.D.

Some breast cancer treatments, particularly chemotherapy, can wipe out the ovaries, forcing some women into premature menopause. When that happens, estrogen levels drop suddenly and hot flashes can be severe.

Hormone therapy isn’t always appropriate for women with breast cancer or women taking the anti-breast cancer drug Tamoxifen (which has some estrogen-like effects) or aromatase inhibitors such as Aromasin (exemestane), Arimidex (anastrozole), and Femara (letrozole). This is when non-estrogen alternatives for treating menopause symptoms are important. For example, low doses of Effexor XR (venlafaxine), an antidepressant, are often prescribed for hot flashes, as are some other nonprescription treatments.

Pristiq (desvenlafaxine) has been the first non-hormonal treatment for menopausal hot flashes specifically studied for rigorous hot flash reduction. Pristiq, approved as an antidepressant, has also shown particular benefit in treating hot flashes in women who are not depressed but who need hot flash control without the hormones.

Pristiq also has been shown to improve sleep in women—a big plus!

Do you use non-hormone remedies for hot flash relief?

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