The subject of HRT is one that can’t be avoided in the media. Celebrities and health professionals have been discussing symptoms and treatment options in magazines, online and TV. However, there are conflicting views on whether it is safe to take it if you have already had a diagnosis of breast cancer. So how do you know who to believe? It can be difficult enough to cope with symptoms of menopause without the added worry of living with a previous breast cancer diagnosis.
It is true that newer versions of HRT are much safer than previous methods, meaning the increased chance of breast cancer is minimal. The issue with HRT for women who have previously been diagnosed with breast cancer is that it could increase the chance of the cancer coming back. However, there is only limited research, and the risk may depend on the type of HRT, how long it is used for and what type of breast cancer was diagnosed. This uncertainty makes it difficult to decide how best to treat menopause symptoms.
As with all areas of healthcare, it is important to discuss all risks and decide on treatment that suits the individual needs of each patient. If a woman’s menopause symptoms are drastically affecting her daily life and her risk of recurrence of breast cancer is deemed low, it may be considered appropriate to consider HRT.
However, if the risk of recurrence is high, there are other medications that could be considered. For example, if night sweats are an issue, Clonidine might be an option and, in some cases, an antidepressant may be useful. There are many herbal remedies on the market for menopause but not all are advised so it’s always worth checking with a pharmacist or Dr before trying these. And of course, a healthy lifestyle can improve symptoms. Exercise may actually help relieve hot flushes and improve sleep. Relaxation can help to reduce stress levels and improve mood. Yoga is an excellent way to relax and has an abundance of health benefits both physically and mentally. A healthy diet is important to help maintain weight and protect bones, and quitting smoking is always a great idea.
If you would like to discuss HRT and breast cancer with any of our nurses, just book an appointment.