CBT Alleviates Treatment-Induced Menopausal Symptoms in Breast Cancer Patients

OBJECTIVE:Many breast cancer patients experience (severe) menopausal symptoms after an early onset of menopause caused by cancer treatment. The aim of this study was to assess the cost-effectiveness of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and physical exercise (PE), compared to a waiting list control                          group (WLC).

METHODS: We performed a cost-effectiveness analysis from a healthcare system perspective, using a Markov model. Effectiveness data came from a recent randomized controlled trial that evaluated the efficacy of CBT and PE. Cost data were obtained from relevant Dutch sources. Outcome measures were incremental treatment costs (ITCs) per patient with a clinically relevant improvement on a measure of endocrine symptoms, the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy questionnaire (FACT-ES), and on a measure of hot flushes, the Hot Flush Rating Scale (HFRS), and costs per quality-adjusted life years (QALY) gained over a 5-year time period.

RESULTS: ITCs for achieving a clinically relevant decline on the FACT-ES for one patient were 1,051 for CBT and 1,315 for PE, compared to the WLC. The corresponding value for the HFRS was 1,067 for CBT, while PE was not more effective than the WLC. Incremental cost-utility ratios were 22,502/QALY for CBT and 28,078/QALY for PE.

CONCLUSION: CBT is likely the most cost-effective strategy for alleviating treatment-induced menopausal symptoms in this population, followed by PE. The outcomes are sensitive to a reduction of the assumed duration of the treatment effect from 5 to 3 and 1.5 years.

IMPLICATIONS FOR CANCER SURVIVORS: Patients can be prescribed CBT or, based on individual preferences, PE.

Mewes, J. C., Steuten, L. M. G., Duijts, S. F. A., Oldenburg, H. S. S., Van, B. M., Stuiver, M. M., Hunter, M. S., … Aaronson, N. K. (2014). Cost-Effectiveness of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy and Physical Exercise for Alleviating Treatment-Induced Menopausal Symptoms in Breast Cancer Patients. Journal of Cancer Survivorship: Research and Practice. Epub ahead of print.