Hormone therapy affects cancer diagnosis

February 26th, 2008 - 12:10 pm ICT by admin  

New York, Feb 26 (IANS) Women undergoing combined hormone therapy (CHT) seem to be at greater risk of having abnormal mammograms and breast biopsies, according to a new study. CHT may decrease the effectiveness of both methods for detecting breast cancer, a report appearing in the latest issue of the journal Archives of Internal Medicine said.

“These findings represent a concern for post-menopausal women who are considering hormone therapy,” said Rowan Chlebowski of the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute.

“They should take the results of this study into consideration and consult with their physicians before undergoing even short-term hormone therapy,” he said.

The team examined the effect of CHT on breast cancer detection over five years. More than one in 10 women were found having otherwise avoidable mammogram abnormalities and one in 25 having breast biopsies.

Chlebowski and his colleagues based the report on a 15-year study of 16,608 post-menopausal women, who participated in the clinical trial.

A total of 8,506 women were randomly assigned to receive a combination of oestrogen (0.625 milligrams daily) plus progesterone (2.5 milligrams daily), while 8,102 took a placebo.

Each woman received a mammogram and breast examination yearly, with biopsies performed, based on physicians’ judgement.

During the 5.6 years of the study, 199 women in the combined hormone group and 150 women in the placebo group developed breast cancer.

Mammograms with abnormal results were more common among women taking hormones than among women taking placebos: 35 percent vs. 23 percent.

Women taking hormones had a four percent greater risk of having a mammogram with abnormalities after one year and an 11 percent greater risk after five years.

Breast biopsies also were more common among women taking combined hormone therapy than among those taking placebos: 10 percent vs. 6.1 percent.

“After CHT’s discontinuation, adverse effects on mammogram and breast biopsy performance were seen even in younger women in the fifties, so the finding may impact women just entering menopause as well,” said Chlebowski.

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