Ovarian Ablation in Breast Cancer Patients and the Possibility of Influencing Treatment Side Effects


Klin Onkol 2016; 29(Suppl 3): 29-38. DOI: 10.14735/amko20163S29.

Ovarian suppression or ovarian ablation used in treatment of breast carcinoma results in temporary or permanent menopause and associated menopausal symptoms – most frequently vasomotoric symptoms (hot flashes, sweats), vaginal atrophy, sleep disturbances. Patients can also experience frequent decrease in bone density (osteopenia, osteoporosis), mood swings or depression, less frequently cardiac toxicity. Managements of these symptoms is complex. As hormonal replacement therapy (estrogens or combined estrogen/gestagen therapy) is contraindicated in women with breast carcinoma, other available options include non-hormonal pharmacological or non-pharmacological methods or their combinations. Women should be advised about cooling techniques and how to avoid known triggers; these measures should be combined with other non-pharmacological and pharmacological intervention. Non-pharmacological methods include the use of acupuncture or cognitive behavioral therapy. Some tips to help stay cool and decrease hot flashes – avoid hot beverages, spicy food, limit coffee or alcohol intake, dress in layers of clothing that can be removed if necessary. Pharmacological options include most frequently antidepressants – SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor), SNRI (serotonin norepinephrin reuptake inhibitor), or alternatively gabapentin or pregabali. A very promising drug is paroxetine with a lot of clinical trials. Only this drug has FDA approval for the indication of hot flashes. Paroxetine can lead to disproportional changes in plasma levels of drug in CYP2D6 metabolism and thus it is not suitable for combination of paroxetine with tamoxifen. Several studies demonstrated the effectiveness of the newer generation of SSRI – citalopram, escitalopram, sertralin and duloxetin in ameliorating hot flashes. Venlafaxine in dose 75 or 150 mg has been associated with a 61% reduction in hot flashes frequency if compared to 27% reduction with placebo. Medroxyprogesterone acetate and megestrol acetate were investigated especially in patients with breast cancer history and both drugs demonstrate an effect in hot flashes treatment. Management of vaginal atrophy is challenging. Vaginal dryness/atrophy can be relieved with use of topical lubricants/gels or possibly in highly symptomatic patients with short term use of topical estrogens. As these symptoms require highly complex management, multidisciplinary approach is recommended.


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