In response to the Breast Cancer Now study, Dr Heather Currie, spokesperson for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) and Chair of the British Menopause Society (BMS), said:
“The findings of this prospective study reconfirm that some previous studies may have underestimated the risk of breast cancer associated with combined oestrogen-progestogen HRT use. Similar to the evidence base considered within the recently published NICE guidelines on menopause, women using combined HRT are at an increased risk of developing breast cancer depending on the duration of use, although this risk reduces once HRT use stops. Further clarity around the effects of different types and routes of progestogens in combined HRT is needed. In women using oestrogen-only HRT, there was no overall increase seen in breast cancer risk compared with women who had never used HRT.
“HRT is an effective treatment for menopausal symptoms, particularly with the management of hot flushes. However, the risks and benefits are different for each woman, depending on her own medical history, her family history and her menopausal symptoms. To take or not to take HRT, or other treatments for menopausal symptoms, is an individual choice.
“Women need clear, evidence-based information to break through the conflicts of opinion and confusion about the menopause. For many women, any change in breast cancer risk is outweighed by the benefit on their quality of life, bearing in mind that there are many other factors that increase the risk of breast cancer, for example lifestyle factors.”