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Title Increased breast cancer risk - Million women study.
Date 2004
Full Story Further information published in The Lancet, from the Million women study, has shown a greater increase in the risk of breast cancer in women taking combined HRT than previously believed. The million women study, analysing information from women attending for breast cancer screening between 1996 and 2001, has reported that about 20 women per 1,000 usually develop breast cancer. For every 1,000 women aged over 50 taking oestrogen combined with progestogen for 10 years, there were 19 extra cases of breast cancer, and an extra 5 cases in women taking oestrogen only (the type of HRT usually used by women who have had a hysterectomy). The increased risk was previously quoted as an extra 6 cases per 1,000 women aged 50-70 taking HRT for 10 years, with a baseline risk of 45 per 1,000.


Regarding type of HRT, women who have had a hysterectomy and take oestrogen only HRT may be reassured that this study shows no additional risk for them above the previously known risk. If the uterus is present, taking oestrogen only HRT confers an increased risk of uterine cancer and so combined HRT (oestrogen and progestogen) would still be recommended.
This further information must be considered when choosing whether or not to commence or continue HRT, therapy being individualised by balancing risks against benefits and being influenced by severity and duration of menopausal symptoms, effectiveness of non-hormonal therapies, past and family history and the type of HRT being considered. Immediate change or cessation of HRT is not necessary but risks and benefits should be discussed at a routine review with a health professional.

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