- Question from Toni: Would taking progesterone work for hot flashes?
- Answers - Charles Loprinzi We have previously studied megestrol acetate (brand name: Megace) in low doses with patients with breast cancer. This medication decreased hot flashes by approximately 80 percent from baseline. This result is similar to what would be expected from the use of estrogen. So from this, progesterone treatment is an effective means of alleviating hot flashes. However, there are some physicians and patients who are nervous about giving any hormone, including progesterone, to patients with breast cancer. Thus, nonhormonal means are often times utilized first.
- Jennifer Griggs, M.D., M.P.H. Would you comment, then, on the use of Megace in the treatment of metastatic breast cancer?
- Charles Loprinzi It is true that Megace in relatively large doses, such as 160 mg per day, is used at times to treat patients with recurrent breast cancer. Why then do people worry about using it for hot flashes and causing recurrence of breast cancer? The answer is that the doses used for hot flash management are much lower than the doses for breast cancer treatment, and this causes concern among some doctors. In a similar manner, in the olden days (15-20 years ago) our best hormonal treatment for patients with breast cancer was actually DES. That is an estrogen therapy that was used in high doses where it seemed to shrink breast cancer, and in small doses, there's concern about making breast cancer grow. The whole question about the effect of these different hormonal treatments in breast cancer survivors continues to be one that is debated and studied.
The Ask-the-Expert Online Conference called Managing Menopausal Symptoms featured Charles Loprinzi, M.D., Debra Barton, Ph.D., and Jennifer Griggs, M.D., M.P.H. answering your questions about hot flashes, vaginal dryness, loss of libido, and other symptoms associated with menopause.
Editor's Note: This conference took place in March 2002.
The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of Breastcancer.org. A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.
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