CHICAGO, June 4, 2007 -- Women on tamoxifen therapy who reported having hot flashes were less likely to develop recurrent breast cancer than those who did not report hot flashes, according to a study from the Moores Cancer Center at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD). Moreover, hot flashes were a stronger predictor of outcome than age, hormone receptor status or even how advanced the breast cancer was at diagnosis.
The study results were presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual meeting in Chicago today.
"Hot flashes are a very common and disruptive problem in breast cancer survivors," said the study's first author Joanne Mortimer, M.D., medical director of the Moores Cancer Center and professor of medicine with the UCSD School of Medicine. "About two-thirds of women with breast cancer say hot flashes compromise their quality of life. The most common request for additional treatment we get is for relief from these symptoms."
The study was based upon data from the comparison group of the Women's Healthy Eating and Living (WHEL) study a multi-site randomized trial of the impact of a diet high in vegetables, fruits and fiber, and low in fat on the recurrence of breast cancer. The WHEL participating institutions are University of California, San Diego and Davis, Stanford University, Kaiser Permanente in Oakland and Portland, University of Arizona at Tucson, and the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.
Of the 1,551 women with early-stage breast cancer who were randomized to the comparison group of the WHEL study, more than half (864, or 56 percent) were taking tamoxifen, and more than three-quarters of those (674, or 78 percent) reported hot flashes.