Oxybutynin for Hot Flashes in Breast Cancer Patients

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During menopause, many women suffer from hot flashes.  Patients with breast cancer often experience more frequent and more intense hot flashes due to their disease state or the treatments used to treat them (chemotherapy, antiestrogens, etc.).  Unfortunately, many drug therapies that are commonly prescribed to manage bothersome hot flashes are  contraindicated in patients with breast cancer, as they may exacerbate the disease or interact with drugs that are commonly used to treat or prevent recurrence of breast cancer. 

As reported in drugs.com and MedPageToday, a study of a new therapeutic approach is being reported at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.  Researchers at Mayo Clinic, oncologists Roberto Leon-Ferre, MD and Charles Loprinzi, MD, found that the anticholinergic agent oxybutynin helps to reduce the frequency and intensity of hot flashes in women who are unable to take hormone replacement therapy, and leads to improved quality of life in those studied.

The randomized placebo-controlled trial studied two doses of oxybutynin, 2.5 mg daily and 5 mg daily.  Both doses showed a significantly greater reduction in the frequency of hot flashes and the severity of the hot flashes when compared to placebo.  Patients on treatment reported a number of adverse effects, including stomach pain, diarrhea, nausea, headaches, episodes of confusion, dry mouth, and dry eyes.

This new treatment represents an inexpensive and low-risk strategy for addressing a substantial concern in cancer care.

References

For more information click on these links for reporting in drugs.com and MedPageToday.


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Jill Kolesar & Lee Vermeulen

Professors, University of Kentucky

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