Research Article| Volume 49, ISSUE 1, PS22-S31, September 24, 2004

Postmenopausal hormone therapy before and after breast cancer: clinical experiences


      Conventional oestrogen-based hormone therapy (HT) increases the incidence of breast pain and tenderness, mammographic density and the risk of breast cancer. Combined oestrogen plus progestogen therapy (EPT) increases the risk of breast cancer to a greater degree than oestrogen alone (ET). Attention must therefore be focused on identifying women at risk of breast cancer or on producing a HT that has fewer breast side effects. Randomised controlled trials have shown that while EPT induces breast tenderness or pain in up to 50% of women and increases mammographic density in up to 70% during the first year of treatment, only about as many as one-tenth women report breast tenderness or pain with tibolone and increases in mammographic density are rare, occurring with a similar incidence as seen in untreated controls. Many women with breast cancer suffer vasomotor symptoms rather than risk recurrence with conventional HT. However, in a small randomised controlled trial in women with early breast cancer undergoing adjuvant tamoxifen treatment, tibolone reduced hot flushes, night sweats and improved quality of life compared with placebo.


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