comscoreHot Flash Medications for Women With Breast Cancer

Hot Flash Medications for Women With Breast Cancer

There are classes of medications used to treat other conditions, such as high blood pressure and depression, that help some women safely treat hot flashes.
 

So what if you try diet, exercise, and other strategies for controlling your hot flashes, but nothing seems to help? You may want to work with your doctor to try medications.

Probably the best-known medications for treating hot flashes are those that increase hormone levels: hormone replacement therapy (HRT), progestin-containing medications, and, as of 2014, a medication called Duavee (chemical name: conjugated estrogen/bazedoxifene), which can ease hot flashes and reduce the risk of osteoporosis in postmenopausal women. However, because of the hormones, they generally are not recommended for women with a history of, or high risk for, breast cancer. (For more information, visit the Breastcancer.org section Hormone Replacement Therapy.)

There are other classes of medications used to treat other conditions, such as high blood pressure and depression, that help some women safely treat hot flashes.

 

Blood pressure-lowering medications

Medications that lower blood pressure may lessen the frequency and severity of hot flashes. They change how the blood vessels respond to the brain’s command to give off heat quickly. These medications must be adjusted carefully by your doctor, so they are not used that frequently. However, they can be helpful if you have high blood pressure that requires treatment — the control of hot flashes can be a side benefit. Examples include:

  • Catapres-TTS (chemical name: clonidine)

  • Aldomet (chemical name: methyldopa

 

Antidepressants

Low-dose antidepressant medication may lessen the frequency and severity of hot flashes by rebalancing or intercepting the chemicals in the brain that transmit the hot flash alarm, epinephrine and serotonin. Clinical trials have shown that antidepressants lead to a 50-60% reduction in hot flashes among women who use them. Examples include:

  • Effexor XR (chemical name: venlaxafine HCI

  • Lexapro (chemical name: escitalopram)

  • Paxil and Brisdelle (chemical name: paroxetine)

  • Prozac (chemical name: fluoxetine)

If you’re taking tamoxifen, then Paxil, Brisdelle, and Prozac generally aren’t recommended. These drugs can interfere with the body's ability to convert tamoxifen into its active form, preventing you from getting the full benefit of tamoxifen. For more information, please visit the Tamoxifen page.

 

Anti-seizure medications

The anti-seizure medication Neurontin (chemical name: gabapentin) has been used in the past to provide relief. Research has found that women taking Neurontin can experience a 50-60% reduction in hot flashes after the first 4 weeks. However, most women aren’t interested in it because of the risk of side effects, such as dizziness, tiredness, and swelling in the hands and feet.



— Last updated on January 29, 2022, 1:45 PM