Jul 25, 2017 10:00 AM

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Updated October 2018

In the heat of summer, a hot flash can feel unbearable. Hot flashes affect the quality of life of many cancer patients.

Hot flashes may be a side effect of cancer or its treatment, especially for patients with breast or prostate cancer

Stay Cool

Since body temperature goes up before a hot flash, staying cool in the summer may help control symptoms:

  • Wear loose-fitting clothes made of breathable fabrics such as cotton, linen, or athletic wear.
  • Use fans and open windows to keep air moving.
  • Practice relaxation training and slow, deep breathing.
  • Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and spicy foods.
  • Keep cool water nearby to sip or rub on skin.
  • Plan exercise and errands during the cooler morning hours.

Keep Your Stress Levels Low

Another way to manage hot flashes is to manage stress and anxiety. Staying calm and managing stress may lower levels of a hormone called serotonin that can trigger hot flashes.

Huntsman Cancer Institute has many programs that may help lower stress and anxiety, including mind-body skills classes, tai chi, qigong, yoga, massage, acupuncture, and more.

The Cancer Learning Center also has resources on managing stress and anxiety, including books, guided mediation audio, tai chi videos, and more.

Ask the Experts about Drug and Herbal Remedies

You can also talk to your health care providers about drug options for treating this side effect. Hot flashes may be managed with estrogen replacement therapy. However, many patients are not able to take estrogen replacement, including people who have or had breast cancer. Make sure your health care providers know about all medicines, dietary supplements, and herbs you are taking.

Learn more about complementary and alternative medicine or the causes of hot flashes from the National Cancer Institute.

For more information, live chat with a health educator or contact the Cancer Learning Center.

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Cancer touches all of us.

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