State of the science: hot flashes and cancer. Part 1: definition, scope, impact, physiology, and measurement

Oncol Nurs Forum. 2005 Sep 1;32(5):959-68. doi: 10.1188/05.ONF.959-968.


Purpose/objectives: To critically evaluate and synthesize multidisciplinary research related to hot flashes in the context of cancer. Topics include the definition, scope, and impact of hot flashes; physiologic mechanisms; and measurement issues.

Data sources: Published, peer-reviewed articles and textbooks; editorials; unpublished data; and computerized databases.

Data synthesis: Hot flashes can affect a diverse group of men and women diagnosed with or at high risk for certain cancers with a resulting negative impact on quality of life. Although the exact physiologic mechanisms underlying hot flashes remain unclear, a complex interplay of thermoregulatory, gluconeuroendocrine, genetic, and behavioral factors appears to be involved. Measurement of hot flashes should be considered carefully because they can be operationalized objectively and subjectively.

Conclusions: The large and diverse evidence base and current national attention on measurement of hot flashes highlight the importance of the symptom to healthcare professionals, including oncology nurses.

Implications for nursing: Careful attention to assessment and measurement of hot flashes in patients with cancer is needed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Body Temperature Regulation
  • Comorbidity
  • Conditioning, Classical
  • Female
  • Galvanic Skin Response
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Hot Flashes / diagnosis*
  • Hot Flashes / epidemiology*
  • Hot Flashes / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Neoplasms / physiopathology
  • Neurosecretory Systems / metabolism
  • Neurosecretory Systems / physiopathology
  • Prevalence
  • Quality of Life
  • Risk Factors


  • Glucose