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Data sources: Published, peer-reviewed articles and textbooks; editorials; unpublished data; and computerized databases.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