Evaluation of low-dose venlafaxine hydrochloride for the therapy of hot flushes in breast cancer survivors

N. Biglia, Riccardo Torta, R. Roagna, F. Maggiorotto, F. Cacciari, R. Ponzone, F. Kubatzki, P. Sismondi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To evaluate the efficacy and tolerability of long-term treatment with venlafaxine at low dose for the reduction of vasomotor symptoms in breast cancer survivors. Design: Forty consecutive breast cancer patients suffering troublesome hot flushes have been treated for 8 weeks with venlafaxine XR 37.5 mg/day in an open-label study. Vasomotor symptoms have been evaluated before starting treatment and every 4 weeks with a hot flushes diary pointing out the number and the severity of vasomotor symptoms. A Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) was completed at baseline and at the end of the treatment. Results: Thirty patients had completed the first 4 weeks of treatment, reporting a reduction of hot flushes frequency of 39% as compared to baseline (p <0.001). After 8 weeks of treatment, a further significant reduction was observed both for the hot flushes frequency (-53%; p <0.001) and for the hot flushes score (-59%; p <0.001), a measure which reflects both the number and the severity of hot flushes. Very few side effects were reported, mostly nausea in the first 2 weeks of assumption and mouth dryness. Only 23 women had completed BDI at week 8; a reduction of 23% was observed (p = 0.000). Conclusion: Venlafaxine is an effective treatment for the relief of vasomotor symptoms in patients previously treated for breast cancer. A favourable effect is maintained also in those patients using tamoxifen as adjuvant therapy. The use of the low dose (37.5 mg/day) is associated with minimal side effects and produces a good improvement in hot flushes if pursued over 8 weeks.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)78-85
Number of pages8
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Sept 16 2005


  • Breast cancer
  • Hot flushes
  • Venlafaxine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ageing
  • Obstetrics and Gynaecology


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