Smart Woman: Talk Therapy for Breast Cancer Patients

Suzy Wynbergen credits 'talk therapy' for easing her hot flashes and night sweats.

"It was just interesting to see how just talking about it, our experiences and what we were going through was just incredibly helpful," said Wynbergen.

She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008. Chemotherapy treatment brought on early menopause and the hot flashes that come with it.

Wynbergen said, "It was that very much instantaneous and intense heat seemed to come from nowhere."

Suzy didn't want to turn to hormone treatment, so she signed up for a talk therapy study at King's College London.

Researchers recruited about 100 breast cancer patients from clinics around London to take part in the experiment. Half of the women received their regular cancer care. The other half attended cognitive behavioral group sessions. A trained therapist helped the women change their behavior and use relaxation techniques.

Professor Myra Hunter of King's College in London said," We found that calm breathing and a calming thought together, women found that helped to diminish the impact of hot flashes. "

Women who had the therapy saw their symptoms cut in half after six months.

Suzy still gets hot flashes but says they're not as severe, thanks to life changes she made through therapy.

"Changing my caffeine intake, sugar intake and dare I say sometimes alcohol intake," said Wynbergen.

And researchers say it's not just for breast cancer patients, any woman suffering through menopause could benefit from talking it out.

Researchers in Britain say they are working to train health professionals worldwide in talk therapy so more women can get the treatment. The research was published in this week's the Lancet Oncology.

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