EUROPA DONNA statement on HRT

Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) and Breast Cancer

About HRT
Hormonal Replacement Therapy (HRT) is a common therapy offered to women to treat menopausal symptoms. HRT reduces the symptoms that are caused by menopause, maintains bone density in post-menopausal women and decreases the risk of bone fractures caused by osteoporosis, during the period of its use. Additionally, recent studies indicate that HRT reduces the risk of colon cancer but may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.

HRT and Breast Cancer Risks
Based on evidence from various studies, the Women’s Health Initiative and the Million Women Study, there is a very clear connection between HRT and the risk of developing breast cancer. The Million Women Study found that current users of HRT at recruitment were more likely to develop breast cancer than those who had never used it (adjusted risk 1.66) (see Lancet 2003: 362:419-427). The above-mentioned studies indicate that breast cancer risk increases the longer HRT is taken.
For women who do not have a history of breast cancer it is advisable to discuss the risks and benefits of taking HRT with your doctor in order to make an informed decision as to whether HRT is right for you. It is further recommend that you review your current treatments with your doctor on a regular basis so as to know if they are still your best option. If you opt for HRT, ask to take the lowest effective dose for the shortest amount of time needed to treat your symptons.
HRT is generally not recommended if you have a history of breast cancer as HRT may increase your risk of a reccurrence of breast cancer (see HABITS trial). Any decision to take HRT should, therefore, be discussed in detail with your physician.