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HRT Users Who Get Breast Cancer Less Likely to Die
Date:12/12/2008

ho took hormone replacement therapy, she said.

The finding is not surprising, said Dr. Victor G. Vogel, the incoming national vice president of research for the American Cancer Society and a professor of medicine and epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh. "It says if you are taking HRT, your risk of getting breast cancer is higher, but your risk of dying from breast cancer is less," he said.

The finding may be surprising, he added, to those who don't appreciate the complex interaction between estrogen and breast cancer, which is still something of a paradox, he said.

In other presentations at the conference, researchers reported that:

  • Estrogen therapy may help women with metastatic breast cancer whose tumors stopped responding to anti-estrogen therapy. Giving the estrogen may return metastatic tumors to a vulnerable state after which patients can then be cycled back to the anti-estrogen therapy. The concept is not new, Vogel noted.
  • A switch to the drug anastrazole after one to four years of tamoxifen boosts disease-free survival by about 31 percent, according to another study, but patients report worse quality of life. But quality-of-life issues can generally be treated and improved, Vogel said.
  • The drug letrozole may beat out tamoxifen in improving overall survival in patients with primary breast cancer. A comparison study of the two found that letrozole reduces breast cancer recurrence and may decrease the risk of breast cancer death by 13 percent.

More information

To learn more about breast cancer, visit the American Cancer Society.



SOURCES: Victor G. Vogel, M.D., M.H.S., incoming national vice president, research, American Cancer Society, and professor, medicine and epidemiology, University of Pittsburgh; Sarah F. Marshall, senior stati
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