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Posted on Apr 19, 2022

Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) and Breast Cancer in Post Menopausal Women

  • What is Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)

When women attain menopause, their ovaries stop producing the hormone estrogen and results in menopausal symptoms like mood swings, hot flashes, fatigue etc. For some women these symptoms may become troublesome. So, HRT is useful to alleviate these symptoms.

  • Types of HRT- broadly classified as

– Combination HRT contains the hormones estrogen and progesterone

– Estrogen-only HRT contains only estrogen

  • Risk of breast cancer with HRT-

– According on several research since 2002, taking HRT is linked to a higher risk of being diagnosed breast cancer.

-Greater risk for women using combination-type HRT

– According to the Million Women Study, those women who are currently taking combined HRT have double the risk of breast cancer compared to non-users. And use of HRT for over 10 years, the risks are even higher.

– Longer the use of HRT, higher the risk.

– These increased risks were found to be similar between the types of estrogen and progesterone used, and between continuous versus cyclical combined HRT.

– Breast cancers in women taking HRT are more likely to be detected at advanced stage.

– After stopping HRT, the risk of breast cancer will start to reduce and takes about 4 years to go back to the same risk as of non-user.

  • Should I take HRT or not?

You should consult your doctor and let them weigh the risks and benefits involved and make a correct choice according to your condition. HRT is still being used as short-term treatment and is effective to alleviate concerning menopausal symptoms.

P.S. – Hormonal therapy is an essential part of treatment of hormone receptor (ER/PR) positive breast cancer and should not be confused with Hormonal Replacement Therapy.