Bid to help breast cancer sufferers

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Luton and Dunstable University Hospital is taking part in a clinical trial – funded by leading charity Breast Cancer Now – to investigate the best way to deliver cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) to reduce the impact of two major side-effects for women undergoing breast cancer treatment.

Hot flushes and night sweats are common side-effects of current breast cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and anti-hormone drugs.

Experienced by up to 70% of women receiving treatment, they can have a huge impact on their daily lives, often affecting employment, personal relationships and general quality of life, and sometimes leading to women not completing the full course of their treatment

Researchers have already shown that CBT – a type of ‘talking therapy’ – can help to reduce the impact that hot flushes and night sweats have, allowing women to regain a sense of control over these symptoms.

Although CBT is known to be effective, it is not currently offered routinely within the NHS for women with breast cancer.

At present CBT can only be given to groups by trained clinical psychologists and there is nothing currently considered a universal gold standard of care in breast cancer treatment, meaning support to help patients manage these difficult symptoms varies across the country.

Luton and Dunstable University Hospital is one of six UK hospitals participating in the trial – which will involve up to 160 women undergoing breast cancer treatment who are experiencing severe and frequent hot flushes or night sweats.

Half of the women will receive group CBT from a breast cancer nurse, involving six weekly sessions lasting 90 minutes each, while the other half will receive whatever support they would normally receive.

Dr Mei-Lin Ah-See, Consultant Clinical Oncologist at Luton and Dunstable University Hospital, said: “We are delighted that Luton and Dunstable University Hospital is participating in this trial, and hope it can make a real difference to patients in the region who are experiencing hot flushes and night sweats as a side-effect of their breast cancer treatment.

“Hot flushes can have a major impact on women’s lives: affecting their work, social life and disrupting their sleep. We look forward to the results of this trial, and hope that it will enable much wider access to CBT among breast cancer patients.”

Breast Cancer Now has donated £300,000 to fund the study.