Alternative medicineBy Mayo Clinic staff
No alternative medicine treatments can cure breast cancer. Instead, complementary and alternative treatments are most helpful for coping with the side effects of cancer and cancer treatment, such as hot flashes.
Alternative treatments for hot flashes
Hot flashes — bouts of sudden, intense warmness that can leave you sweaty and uncomfortable — can be a symptom of natural menopause or a side effect of hormone therapy for breast cancer. Women with breast cancers that use hormones for fuel may receive hormone therapy to block the interaction between hormones and cancer cells. Most invasive lobular carcinomas are hormone receptor positive.
Talk to your doctor if you experience hot flashes. If hot flashes are mild, they're likely to subside over time. In most women, hot flashes eventually disappear. However, some women experience severe and bothersome hot flashes. Many treatments are available for hot flashes, including medications.
Sometimes treatments for hot flashes don't work as well as you'd like. In those situations, it might help to add complementary and alternative treatments to make you feel better.
Options might include:
- Hypnosis. Hypnosis is a trance-like state that helps you concentrate and feel relaxed. You can undergo hypnosis with a therapist or by listening to recordings on your own.
- Meditation. Meditation is a deep state of concentration. Meditation is often used to promote relaxation and stress reduction. You can meditate with an instructor or you can do it on your own.
- Relaxation exercises. Relaxation exercises are activities that help you relieve stress. Examples might include paced, deep breathing or closing your eyes and imagining a favorite place. You can learn relaxation exercises from a therapist or you can do them on your own.
- Yoga. During a yoga session, you move through a series of body positions while deep breathing. Yoga may help you feel relaxed. Yoga classes for all abilities are available.
While none of these alternative treatments is proven to help control hot flashes, some preliminary evidence shows some breast cancer survivors have found them helpful. If you're interested in trying alternative treatment for hot flashes, talk to your doctor about your options.
- Rakha EA, et al. Lobular breast carcinoma and its variants. Seminars in Diagnostic Pathology. 2010;27:49.
- Chen WY. Postmenopausal hormone therapy and breast cancer risk: Current status and unanswered questions. Endocrinology and Metabolism Clinics of North America. 2011;40:509.
- Abeloff MD, et al. Abeloff's Clinical Oncology. 4th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier; 2008. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/208746819-4/0/1709/0.html. Accessed April 24, 2012.
- Breast cancer. Fort Washington, Pa.: National Comprehensive Cancer Network. http://www.nccn.org/professionals/physician_gls/f_guidelines.asp. Accessed April 24, 2012.
- Biglia N, et al. Increased incidence of lobular breast cancer in women treated with hormone replacement therapy: Implications for diagnosis, surgical and medical treatment. Endocrine-Related Cancer. 2007;14:549.
- Schrader KA, et al. Hereditary diffuse gastric cancer: Association with lobular breast cancer. Familial Cancer. 2008;7:73.
- Breast cancer treatment (PDQ). National Cancer Institute. http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/treatment/breast/healthprofessional. Accessed April 24, 2012.
- Breast cancer prevention (PDQ). National Cancer Institute. http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/prevention/breast/healthprofessional. Accessed April 24, 2012.
- Avis NE. Breast cancer survivors and hot flashes: The search for nonhormonal treatments. Journal of Clinical Oncology. 2008;26:5008.
- Pruthi S (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. May 7, 2012.