Breast Cancer Risk | HRT Remains a Controversial Subject

breast cancerBreast cancer risk is a source of fear for many women. According to recent online article hormone replacement therapy (HRT) was no longer the wonder drug after the U.S. Women’s Health Initiative study was stopped early in 2002 because HRT was shown to increase the breast cancer risk and rick for strokes and ovarian cancer. Some variations have emerged since that time. For example, short-term use of HRT is now considered  fairly safe and not a definitive breast cancer risk  for some women who have debilitating menopausal symptoms. Estrogen-only therapy is mostly only prescribed for women who have had a hysterectomy; women with an existing uterus who use HRT must also take the hormone progestin (synthetic progesterone) with estrogen to prevent uterine cancer. The increase in breast cancer risk is still of concern.

Breast Cancer Risk Vary

Breast cancer risk are not identical for every patient.”For combination therapy there is so much data about the dangers that we really tell people that if they must take it to treat symptoms, they should only do so for a year or two at most,” said study author Dr. Wendy Chen, an associate physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and an assistant professor in medicine at the Breast Cancer Treatment Center at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. Breast cancer risk are taken into consideration when deciding the benefits of HRT.  “For estrogen alone, there is more safety data for someone who wants to take it for five or six years.”  Because the new study was presented at a medical meeting, the information and subsequent conclusions should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Breast Cancer Risk Part of the Discussion With Your Doctor

Breast cancer risk should be part of the discussion with your doctor when considering HRT. Patients are bombarded with information ,much of it conflicting, concerning hormone replacement therapy. It is best to discuss your specific concerns with your primary care physician. Patients who are considering plastic surgery should fully disclose all medications including those used for hormone replacement therapy, specifically estrogen. Dr. Seify is particularly concerned with estrogen, as it has been linked to surgical complications for patients. Estrogen carried an increased risk for blood clots in surgical patients. Procedures including abdominoplasty, and facelift in which patients are likely to be sedentary in the early days of recovery, harbor some of the greatest concern.  Birth control pills contain estrogen and are also a concern, as they increase the risk for blood clots also. For patients who are taking estrogen products Dr. Seify educates the patients of the surgical risk. He may instruct patients to discontinue all estrogen containing products 3 weeks prior to surgery. It is important that patients use an alternative form of birth control if they are discontinuing birth control pills. Although the risks of blood clots are not significant for patients taking estrogen containing products, the goal is to make cosmetic plastic surgery as safe for the patient as possible.


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