Purpose: Hot flashes are a significant problem for many breast cancer survivors. Hot flashes can cause discomfort, disrupted sleep, anxiety, and decreased quality of life. A well-tolerated and effective mind-body treatment for hot flashes would be of great value. On the basis of previous case studies, this study was developed to evaluate the effect of a hypnosis intervention for hot flashes.
Patients and methods: Sixty female breast cancer survivors with hot flashes were randomly assigned to receive hypnosis intervention (five weekly sessions) or no treatment. Eligible patients had to have a history of primary breast cancer without evidence of detectable disease and 14 or more weekly hot flashes for at least 1 month. The major outcome measure was a bivariate construct that represented hot flash frequency and hot flash score, which was analyzed by a classic sums and differences comparison. Secondary outcome measures were self-reports of interference of hot flashes on daily activities.
Results: Fifty-one randomly assigned women completed the study. By the end of the treatment period, hot flash scores (frequency x average severity) decreased 68% from baseline to end point in the hypnosis arm (P < .001). Significant improvements in self-reported anxiety, depression, interference of hot flashes on daily activities, and sleep were observed for patients who received the hypnosis intervention (P < .005) in comparison to the no treatment control group.
Conclusion: Hypnosis appears to reduce perceived hot flashes in breast cancer survivors and may have additional benefits such as reduced anxiety and depression, and improved sleep.