Hormone replacement therapy in women who had breast cancer
Is it safe to use hormone replacement therapy after diagnosis of breast cancer? This has been the topic of interest in two recent clinical trials from Sweden. Newest of these studies suggest that development of recurrent breast cancer may be related to the type of hormones used in therapy for women after menopause.
A clinical trial named HABITS was prematurely halted in 2003 after it was shown that women with early stage breast cancer who received hormones estrogen and progesterone showed an increased risk of recurrent breast cancer, compared to women who were not receiving hormone replacement.
The results of a recent clinical trial called, the Stockholm trial, which used a different hormonal approach compared to HABITS is showing no increase in recurrence of breast cancer as per a new report in the Journal of National Cancer Institute.
Both studies, done in Sweden, were intended to test the effects of hormone replacement therapy for post-menopausal women who had been diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer.
Many women stopped using hormone replacement therapy after a 2002 study showed they faced an increased risk of heart disease and strokes. After suffering severe symptoms, some have returned to hormone therapy, however, and medical authorities recommend that those women who need therapy use the smallest estrogen dose possible.
"Because doses of estrogen and progestogen and treatment regimens may be associated with the recurrence of breast cancer, there is an urgent need to identify safe and effective strategies to manage menopausal symptoms and improve the quality of life for patients with breast cancer," wrote Dr. Eva von Schoultz and Dr. Lars E. Rutqvist of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm.
There were other differences in the two studies that could also have had an effect, they reported. For instance, more women in the Stockholm trial had received tamoxifen than in the HABITS trial, and the timing of the hormone therapy differed between the two groups.