Background: Hot flashes are often a troublesome symptom in breast carcinoma survivors and men with prostate carcinoma who have undergone androgen deprivation therapy. A previous clinical study demonstrated that, on a short term basis, low dose megestrol acetate markedly reduced hot flashes and was well tolerated. Little information has been available regarding the long term use of low dose megestrol acetate for hot flashes.
Methods: Patients previously enrolled on a randomized placebo-controlled trial that evaluated the short term use of megestrol acetate for hot flashes were contacted and interviewed by telephone.
Results: A total of 132 persons were contacted. Nine percent of the patients discontinued megestrol acetate after resolution of their hot flashes. Forty-five percent of the patients contacted were continuing to utilize megestrol acetate approximately 3 years beyond the conclusion of the 1992 study. Three-quarters of these patients were utilizing < or =20 mg of megestrol acetate per day. Potential toxicities attributed to megestrol acetate included episodes of chills, appetite stimulation/weight gain, vaginal bleeding, and carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms.
Conclusions: A substantial proportion of patients continue to use megestrol acetate for periods of up to 3 years or longer with continued control of hot flashes. This treatment appears to be relatively well tolerated.