Objective: We investigated the prevalence and severity of menopausal symptoms, nearly 6 years from diagnosis, in women who had not experienced recurrent breast cancer or a new primary breast cancer (active disease) and were no longer taking oral adjuvant endocrine therapy (OAET).
Methods: A total of 1,683 women recruited within 12 months of diagnosis with invasive breast cancer completed an enrollment questionnaire and five annual follow-up questionnaires. Only women who had never reported active disease and were not taking OAET at their fifth follow-up were included in the analysis. Women previously recruited to a study of sex steroid levels provided community control data. Menopausal symptoms were assessed with the Menopause-Specific Quality of Life Questionnaire (MenQOL).
Results: Eight hundred forty-three women without active disease and not taking OAET completed the fifth follow-up questionnaire, on average, 5.8 years after diagnosis. Most had stage I (59.5%) and hormone receptor-positive disease (77.9%) at diagnosis and were postmenopausal (92.8%). Those aged 50 to 59 years were more likely to report any symptoms (P = 0.01) and more severe symptoms (P < 0.001) than older and younger women. There was no independent impact of chemotherapy on MenQOL vasomotor and sexual domain scores. Women with breast cancer had significantly higher vasomotor domain (P <= 0.002) and sexual domain (P <= 0.004) scores than community controls.
Conclusions: Vasomotor and sexual symptoms are highly prevalent in breast cancer survivors and are not simply a function of OAET or chemotherapy. Given the adverse impact of these symptoms, effective interventions are needed to alleviate them in women who have completed their breast cancer treatment.
(C) 2014 by The North American Menopause Society.