Background: Classical hormone replacement therapy for hot flashes is contraindicated in breast cancer especially in endocrine responsive disease. Patients and methods: In a double-blind, randomized phase III study, breast cancer patients suffering from hot flashes at least twice a day, who were not taking any medication against hypertension and depression received either clonidine 0.075 mg twice a day or venlafaxine 37.5 mg twice a day for 4 weeks. The primary end point was defined as the frequency of hot flashes after 4 weeks of treatment. A self-reported 1-week hot flash and other symptom questionnaire were kept before the start of treatment until the end of treatment course. Results: From April 2002 to October 2004, 80 patients were recruited of whom 64 were assessable for efficacy analyses. Thirty-three received clonidine and 31 venlafaxine, nine patients stopped early because of side-effects and seven withdrew consent. At the end of treatment week 4, the median hot flash frequency dropped by 7.6 hot flashes per day for patients receiving venlafaxine and 4.85 hot flashes per day for those receiving clonidine (P = 0.025). Conclusion: Venlafaxine is significantly more effective in reducing the frequency of hot flashes in breast cancer patients than clonidine.
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