Hormone replacement therapy has long been known to be a common antidote to the symptoms suffered by women in the postmenopause stage. Commonly prescribed by doctors, in the last several years 25 million prescriptions for hormone replacement therapy have been written by doctors in the United States alone. However, reports showing the link between hormone replacement therapy use during postmenopause and breast cancer make some women fearful of taking it. Consider the evidence: the Women's Health Initiative trial identified an increase in breast cancer tumors and other breast tissue abnormalities among women taking the hormone replacement therapy of estrogen mixed with progestin. However, other studies on hormone replacement therapy during postmenopause have shown mixed results.
The Women's Health Initiaitve study consisted of roughly 17,000 women going in the postmenopause stage. The postmenopause subjects were between the ages of 50 and 69, with an median age of 63 years. These subjects were studied for their hormone replacement therapy intake between the years of 1993 and 1998. Only healthy women were eligible for this trial: women with a history of breast cancers, and other types of cancers, or with serious medical conditions were not considered for the study.
The postmenopause subjects were randomly divided into two groups: one received hormone replacement therapy while the other served as a control. The postmenopause women received annua mammograms for five and a half years. Reciever operating operating characteristic analyses were used to analyze and contrast results between postmenopause women receiving hormone replacement therapy and subjects not receiving hormone replacement therapy. The trial was double-blind so neither patients nor staff knew which postmenopause women were taking hormone replacement therapy. Participants were strongly encouraged to continue with their annual mammograms after the study was over.
In conclusion, the hormone replacement therapy of estrogen mixed with progestin increased the possibility of an abnormal mammogram result when taken by women going through postmenopause. These abnormal results include tumors and other breast tissue abnormalities, which increased the incidence of biopsies in this group. This is in contrast to the postmenopause women who did not take hormone replacement therapy. It should also be noted that the cancers noted for the postmenopause group taking hormone replacement therapy were at a more advanced stage than is normally noted. However, discontinuation of the use of hormone replacement therapy did help descrease these abnormal mammogram results after one year. Hopefully, this study will be of benefit to women in the postemenopause stage who are considering using hormone replacement therapy to treat their symptoms.