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But the researchers also found that cancer survivors coped better with menopausal symptoms and reported a better quality of life than other women, and had similar levels of sexual activity and function.
The study included 934 female cancer survivors (about 90 percent survived breast cancer) and 155 cancer-free women in Australia who were assessed for hot flashes and other menopause-related symptoms and sexual function.
Seventy-six percent of the cancer survivors reported having hot flashes in the past 24 hours, compared with 54 percent of the cancer-free women. Sixty percent of the cancer survivors said their hot flashes were severe or very severe, compared with 40 percent of the cancer-free women.
Menopausal symptoms also seemed to persist longer in the cancer survivors, according to the study published online July 17 in the journal Menopause.
But the investigators also found that the cancer survivors were less troubled by mental and physical symptoms of menopause, and reported a better quality of life than the cancer-free women. The cancer survivors were less likely to have severe mood swings or sadness, and had much better social and family well-being.
The cancer survivors and cancer-free women had about the same levels of sexual activity and function, and about the same number in both groups reported severe vaginal dryness (49 percent of cancer survivors and 47 of cancer-free women).
The cancer survivors' better emotional and social well-being during menopause may be the result of the good social and psychological support available for cancer survivors, the study authors suggested.
"Both expected and surprising, these results highlight that all menopausal women, including cancer survivors, need effective treatment options for their hot flashes and sexual symptoms," Dr. Margery Gass, executive director of the North American Menopause Society, said in a society news release.
-- Robert Preidt
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