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HRT Can Lead to Abnormal Mammograms, Biopsies
Date:2/25/2008

That may limit effectiveness of these breast cancer detection methods, study says

MONDAY, Feb. 25 (HealthDay News) -- Women who take combined hormone therapy for about five years have a higher risk of abnormal mammograms and breast biopsies.

This, in turn, may decrease the effectiveness of these methods of detecting breast cancer, according to a new study published in the Feb. 25 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine.

"Women need to be aware of the risks, and it's not just risk of increased breast cancer. It's a risk of possibly having abnormal mammograms and really being tortured by them," said Dr. Kristin Byrne, chief of breast imaging at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, who was not involved with the study. "It's a whole slew of things they need to be aware of before making a decision to go on hormone therapy."

Study lead author Dr. Rowan Chlebowski, a medical oncologist with the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, said that for women with severe menopausal symptoms, the new findings "won't be an issue."

"It [hormone-replacement therapy] is safer than we thought maybe a year and a half ago," he said. "Certainly, no one is going to brush off a breast biopsy. But for women trying to decide whether to start on hormone therapy or who want to see if their symptoms get better, they have to think about whether they would mind having a call back" for a mammogram.

The landmark Women's Health Initiative (WHI) study found that combined estrogen plus progestin hormone replacement therapy (HRT) increased the risk of breast cancer. One recent study indicated that the risk was greater for lobular breast cancer than ductal carcinoma malignancy.

Since 2003, there has been a decline in breast cancer incidence that coincided with a decline in HRT use for menopausal symptoms. Nevertheless, Chlebowski pointed out, "a lot of people are still using horm
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