Hypnosis is a mind-body therapy that has few negative adverse effects and that may be of significant benefit in reducing the frequency and severity of hot flashes in breast cancer survivors. Several small studies have suggested that hypnosis intervention may have a positive effect on the reduction of hot flashes. An early study by Stevenson and Delprato 1. reported that four women were able to reduce self-reported hot flashes by 41% to 90% from baseline when provided with instruction in relaxation, self-suggestions of cool thoughts, and temperature biofeedback.
Aim of this study: 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 analysed 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  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.

  1. Stevenson DW, Delprato D: Multiple component self-control program for menopausal hot flashes. J Behav Ther Exp Psychiatry 14:137-140,1983 

 

J Clin Oncol 26:5022-5026.  2008 by American Society of Clinical Oncology

Gary Elkins, Joel Marcus, Vered Stearns, Michelle Perfect, M. Hasan Rajab, Christopher Ruud, Lynne Palamara, and Timothy Keith
From the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, Baylor University, Waco; Scott and White Memorial Hospital and Clinic, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Temple; Cancer Treatment and Research Center, San Antonio; and University of Texas at Austin, TX; University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ; and the Department of Oncology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD.