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Media releases 14 Dec 2016

BCNA welcomes new resource for women with induced menopause after breast cancer

Breast Cancer Network Australia (BCNA) welcomes a new resource released by Cancer Australia today for women who experience menopausal symptoms as a result of their treatment for breast cancer.

Managing menopausal symptoms after breast cancer – A guide for women provides a consumer guide to evidence-based information about menopause and managing its symptoms.

The resource is also complemented with a version for health professionals working with women who experience menopausal symptoms after breast cancer. Management of menopausal symptoms in women with a history of breast cancer provides health professionals with up-to-date evidence-based recommendations on the management of menopausal symptoms for all women, regardless of age, who have been treated for breast cancer.

Danielle Spence, Head of Quality Practice at BCNA, says the majority of women with breast cancer will experience menopausal symptoms as a result of treatments such as chemotherapy and endocrine (hormone) therapy, and this includes younger women and older women.

Danielle said BCNA’s 2011 research with over 2,000 women who had experienced breast cancer reported that over 1,950 participants had experienced changes in sexual wellbeing as a result of their breast cancer. Some of the most frequently reported causative factors included fatigue, vaginal dryness and hot flushes.

"Management of menopausal symptoms, particularly those related to sexual wellbeing, can be very challenging for all women. The intensity of menopausal symptoms are often more severe in women who have experienced breast cancer and so women will often have different information needs to those who have experienced a natural menopause," Danielle said.

"Unfortunately many women advise us that very few of their specialists raise discussions about management of menopausal side effects, particularly in relation to those that impact on their sexual health, meaning they are left to try different types of therapies they may read or hear about with little understanding of the effectiveness of those therapies," she said.

Cancer Australia’s new information guide will provide an evidence-based approach that can help inform individual decision making. BCNA hopes that it will empower women to have conversations with their health professionals about the physical and emotional impact of treatment-induced menopause and to learn about strategies that may help them.

Danielle said BCNA is also very pleased to see that the new guidelines also discuss effects of breast cancer treatments on fertility, emphasising the importance of fertility and family planning prior to commencement of breast cancer treatment for women who want to be able have children in the future.

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