To determine the nature and severity of vasomotor symptoms, sexual problems, mood and sleep disturbance in community-dwelling breast cancer patients, whether and where they received treatment for these symptoms and their satisfaction with treatment received.
Online cross-sectional survey distributed through Breast Cancer Network Australia (BCNA).
524/2286 women responded to the invitation to participate. Of these, 74% (385/523) reported symptoms of interest and were included in the analysis. Mean age was 55.2 years and mean time since breast cancer diagnosis was 5.7 years. Most (66%) had received chemotherapy and were taking endocrine therapy (64%). The most common symptoms were hot flushes/night sweats and sleep disturbance (both 89%), vaginal dryness (75%), mood swings (62%) and sexual problems (60%). Symptoms were mild (21-33%) or moderate (21-38%) in around one third and severe in up to one quarter (8-26%). Symptoms affected the ability to “get on with their life” for 36%, predicted by severity of hot flushes (OR 1.4), sleep disturbance (OR 1.3), mood disturbance (OR 1.3), and sexual problems (OR 1.3). Only 32% were offered treatment, mostly delivered by GPs (33%) or oncologists (26%). Only 49% found this “somewhat effective” and 34% found it ineffective. The majority (60%) wanted more support to manage their symptoms.
Menopausal symptoms, sexual problems, mood and sleep difficulties are common after breast cancer and often not effectively managed. There is an unmet need for coordinated care providing effective treatments.