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Drop in Breast Cancer Among White Women May Have Stalled
Date:2/28/2011

ence of breast cancer, and the stopping of HRT use can certainly be a contributing factor to this plateau."

The new report notes, however, that the 2002-2003 trend only showed up among white women: there was no major decrease in breast cancer rates among black and Hispanic women between 2002 and 2003, and no significant changes in breast cancer rates for those groups of women from 2003 to 2007.

According to the ACS/NCI study authors, there are a number of possible factors that could explain the leveling out of breast cancer rates among white women in recent years:

  • The decrease in HRT use after 2003 may not have been large enough to continue delaying breast cancer diagnoses.
  • The trends may reflect improved sensitivity of mammography without the influence of HRT, since HRT increases breast density and compromises the diagnostic performance of mammograms and breast biopsies.
  • Breast cancer rates may reflect the relatively stable rates of screening mammography in the United States since 2000. An increase in screening rates would have likely been associated with an increased number of breast cancer diagnoses.

The study was released online in advance of publication in a future print issue of the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about menopausal hormone replacement therapy and cancer.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCES: Sharon M. Rosenbaum-Smith, breast cancer specialist, surgeon, Comprehensive Breast Center, St. Luke's-Roosevelt Medical Center, New York City; American Cancer Society, news release, Feb. 28, 2011


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