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Beneficial effect of HRT on Breast Cancer Mammographic Diagnosis and Outcome


For some time there has been concern that HRT may increase breast density, leading to reduced sensitivity of mammographic screening. However, a recent study, (Arch Surg 2002; 137:1015-1021) suggested that HRT had only beneficial and no discernible harmful effects on breast cancer detection or outcome.

The cases of 292 postmenopausal women with breast cancer were studied, looking at how HRT was related to the mode of cancer detection, tumour size, nodal status, stage and survival.
Women who received HRT before cancer diagnosis (144 women), had a significantly higher percentage of tumours found on mammogram than by palpation, compared to women who did not receive HRT (148 women).
Women whose breast cancer was detected by mammogram had a 6-year survival rate of 94% compared to 78% for those whose cancer was found by palpation. The 6-year survival rate for HRT users was 92% compared with 80% for non-HRT users.

It was concluded that fears of decreased mammographic detection of breast cancer in patients who received HRT prior to diagnosis were not substantiated in this study and that HRT users had improved survival rates.

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