Most women receiving systemic therapy for breast cancer experience hot flashes. We undertook a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, multi-institutional trial to assess the efficacy of gabapentin in controlling hot flashes in women with breast cancer.
420 women with breast cancer who were having two or more hot flashes per day were randomly assigned placebo, gabapentin 300 mg/day, or gabapentin 900 mg/day by mouth in three divided doses for 8 weeks. Each patient kept a 1-week, self-report diary on the frequency, severity, and duration of hot flashes before the start of the study and during weeks 4 and 8 of treatment. Analyses were by intention to treat.
Evaluable data were available on 371 participants at 4 weeks (119 placebo, 123 gabapentin 300 mg, and 129 gabapentin 900 mg) and 347 at 8 weeks (113 placebo, 114 gabapentin 300 mg, and 120 gabapentin 900 mg). The percentage decreases in hot-flash severity score between baseline and weeks 4 and 8, respectively were: 21% (95% CI 12 to 30) and 15% (1 to 29) in the placebo group; 33% (23 to 43) and 31% (16 to 46) in the group assigned gabapentin 300 mg; and 49% (42 to 56) and 46% (34 to 58) in the group assigned gabapentin 900 mg. The differences between the groups were significant (p=0.0001 at 4 weeks and p=0.007 at 8 weeks by ANCOVA for overall treatment effect, adjusted for baseline values); only the higher dose of gabapentin was associated with significant decreases in hot-flash frequency and severity.
Gabapentin is effective in the control of hot flashes at a dose of 900 mg/day, but not at a dose of 300 mg/day. This drug should be considered for treatment of hot flashes in women with breast cancer.