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Hot flash symptoms (also known as hot flush symptoms) are a major health issue for breast cancer survivors. Treatments for hot flash symptoms can be both pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic approaches. Although pharmacological interventions can reduce hot flash symptoms in the general population, selecting medications to treat hot flashes for breast cancer survivors is of concern if they can interact with tamoxifen use in these patients. Therefore,
it is essential to update the scientific evidence regarding the effectiveness of non-pharmacologic approaches on reducing hot flash symptoms for breast cancer survivors. The purpose of this systematic review was to investigate the scientific evidence on the effectiveness of non-pharmacologic approaches on alleviating hot flash symptoms among this group. A comprehensive literature search was conducted electronically using ScienceDirect, Scopus, PubMed, CINAHL, and Cochrane library. Published papers in English focused on non-pharmacologic approaches and hot flash symptoms in breast cancer survivors were selected. The search reviewed studies from January 2000-December 2020. The literature review was undertaken in February 2021. The definition of non-pharmacological interventions or complementary health approaches based on the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health was used as a systematic framework for this review. Sixteen studies were included for analysis. The findings showed that acupuncture was considered a possibly effective method for alleviating hot flash symptoms in breast cancer survivors, whereas effectiveness of other non-pharmacologic approaches, including behavioral therapy, yoga, hypnosis, homeopathy, and relaxation techniques, could not be determined because of the small number of included trials.
In conclusion, the evidence showed insufficient data to support effectiveness of non-pharmacologic approaches in reducing hot flashes for breast cancer survivors. More rigorous studies are warranted to examine these interventions. Nurses need to discuss the pro and cons of these interventions with breast cancer survivors who want to use these alternative approaches for their health.
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