Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Acquired Thermal Discomfort

I am simultaneously doing a fabulous job of living {very happily} in the moment and nervously seeking data. Most of the primary data about my disease, it’s type and stage, aggressiveness and reaction to chemo, etc., is negative. Regardless of my new happy-go-lucky self, this dwells in the back of my mind and leads me on a constant quest for good news, or positive indicators, if you will. I now view the symptoms of normal life through the lens of cancer and statistics, which leads me to some insane googling. I enter long strings of info. which often gets me nowhere, sometimes gets me somewhere I’d rather not be and rarely, oh so rarely, gets me a shred of positive reinforcement, if not outright chuckling.

My most recent google query was: do hot flashes mean breast cancer recurrence? because my hot flashes are constant and insane. I clicked on a few links and found the following which really amuses me. There’s something about the way it’s written. I read a lot of dense medical articles or dumbed down layperson directed pieces and this one is different, an anomaly in the sea of curt medical writing. Not only does it unexpectedly say what I want it too, albeit it nebulously, it’s just hilarious. This is just an excerpt, I can’t tell you the amount of times the whole piece said “thermal”. And who knew there was a Thermal Medicine Specialist?

This article was prepared to familiarise cancer researchers and thermal medicine specialists with the fact that a large percentage of patients report the onset of a significant degree of acquired thermal discomfort symptoms after cancer. While patients with various types of cancer report this symptom, breast cancer far outweighs the other cancers in terms of reports of thermal discomfort symptoms. Breast cancer patients frequently feel excessively hot and/or cold under ambient temperature conditions in which others are able to adjust easily to achieve thermal comfort.

While the literature reveals a strong link between treatment for breast cancer and some menopausal vasomotor symptoms (e.g. hot flashes also known as “hot flushes”), there is little data on quantitative assessment of severity of different types of symptoms and their possible prognostic potential. However, recent, intriguing studies indicating a correlation between the presence of hot flashes and reduced development of breast cancer recurrence strongly suggests that more study on this topic is needed.

Out with the “hot flashes” and in with Acquired Thermal Discomfort, ATD, so much more dignified and legitimate sounding. I think there should be a television commercial with two people in bathtubs discussing ATD. And just wondering... who calls them "hot flushes?" People in Scotland? Furthermore, just so you know:

The ability to achieve thermal comfort, feeling neither too hot nor too cold under different ambient temperatures, is normally controlled by conscious and unconscious mechanisms regulated by a homeostatic process known as thermoregulation. There appear to be two major types of breast cancer-related defects in thermoregulation: (1) excessive, rapid overheating, similar to that which occurs with the vasomotor symptoms associated with menopause (i.e. ‘hot flashes’) and (2) excessive, persistent chills. However, many women report the occurrence of both symptoms and studies to identify whether there are different, identifiable patterns of thermal discomfort after breast cancer have not been conducted.

Thermoregulation is my new favorite word. I'm sorry for ripping my clothes off at the dinner table, I'm having difficulty with my thermoregulation. Unfortunately, they also found a similarly nebulous correlation between ATD and risk for cardiovascular disease, I'll just ignore that part. Yay for hot flashes.

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