Venlafaxine, Clonidine Reduce Hot Flashes in Breast Cancer

Immediate reduction in hot flash scores with venlafaxine; lower week 12 scores with clonidine

TUESDAY, Sept. 13 (HealthDay News) -- Venlafaxine and clonidine effectively manage hot flashes in patients with breast cancer, with hot flash scores reducing more immediately with venlafaxine than clonidine, and reducing more significantly with clonidine during week 12 of treatment than with venlafaxine, according to a study published online Sept. 12 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Annelies H. Boekhout, M.D., from the Netherlands Cancer Institute in Amsterdam, and colleagues compared the average daily hot flash scores in the twelfth week among 102 patients with a history of breast cancer who were randomly assigned to venlafaxine, clonidine, or placebo for 12 weeks. Daily hot flash scores, sexual function, sleep quality, anxiety, and depression were assessed through questionnaires at baseline and during treatment. Data comparing the average daily hot flash scores were available for 80 patients after 12 weeks.

The investigators found that the clonidine group had significantly lower hot flash scores during week 12 than the placebo group, whereas the venlafaxine group showed a borderline nonsignificant difference compared to placebo (P = 0.03 and 0.07, respectively). The venlafaxine and clonidine groups showed equal hot flash scores. There were significant differences between both treatments and placebo over the course of 12 weeks. The venlafaxine group had higher frequencies of treatment-related adverse effects of nausea, constipation, and severe appetite loss.

"Venlafaxine resulted in a more immediate reduction of hot flash scores when compared with clonidine; however, hot flash scores at week 12 were lower in the clonidine group than in the venlafaxine group," the authors write.

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