Women on hormone-replacement therapy warned of breast cancer risk

| Updated on September 28, 2019

Women who are current or past users of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to treat symptoms of menopause are reminded to be vigilant for signs of breast cancer, even after stopping HRT, says the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency.

This is because a new study, published by The Lancet, confirmed that women who use HRT for longer than one year have a higher risk of breast cancer than women who never use HRT. This known risk of breast cancer gets lower once HRT is stopped, but the new study shows some increased risk remains for more than 10 years compared to women who have never used HRT. The increased risk of breast cancer is seen with all types of HRT, except for topical HRT applied directly onto or into the vagina.

Women who use, or are planning to use HRT, should be aware of these new findings when considering HRT use at their next appointment. Women who have previously used HRT should be vigilant for signs of breast cancer and see a doctor if they notice any changes in their breasts.

The MHRA advises that HRT should only be initiated for relief of menopausal symptoms that adversely affect quality of life. Women should use the lowest effective dose of HRT for the shortest duration and HRT should only be continued as long as the benefit in alleviating menopausal symptoms outweighs the risks associated with treatment. In all cases, a careful appraisal of all the risks and benefits should be undertaken regularly, as a woman’s need for treatment and chance of side effects changes over time. Each woman’s risk will depend on what type of HRT is used and how long it is used for. Your doctor or nurse can tell you more about your risks.

Source: UK MHRA

Published on September 28, 2019

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