New data have confirmed that the risk of breast cancer is increased during use of all types of HRT, except vaginal estrogens, and have also shown that an excess risk of breast cancer persists for longer after stopping HRT than previously thought.
If you are using HRT you should discuss this with your GP at your next routine appointment.
Some of the findings of the recent studies are as follows:
- All forms of systemic HRT are associated with a significant excess incidence of breast cancer, irrespective of the type of estrogen or progestogen or route of delivery (oral or transdermal)
- There is little or no increase in risk with current or previous use of HRT for less than 1 year; however, there is an increased risk with HRT use for longer than 1 year
- Risk of breast cancer increases further with longer duration of HRT use
- Risk of breast cancer is lower after stopping HRT than it is during current use, but remains increased in ex-HRT users for more than 10 years compared with women who have never used HRT
- Risk of breast cancer is higher for combined estrogen-progestogen HRT than estrogen-only HRT
- For women who use HRT for similar durations, the total number of HRT-related breast cancers by age 69 years is similar whether HRT is started in her 40s or in her 50s
- The study found no evidence of an effect on breast cancer risk with use of low doses of estrogen applied directly via the vagina to treat local symptoms
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