Not only does combined HRT increase the risk of developing breast cancer, but it also increases the chances that the cancer will be discovered at a more advanced stage. This is due to its influence in reducing the effectiveness of mammography by creating denser breast tissue.
If you no longer have a uterus, estrogen alone can be given for symptoms of menopause. This probably does not increase your risk of developing breast cancer much, if at all. In March 2004, it was concluded from the WHI study that those taking estrogen only had no increased risk of breastcancer or heart disease; however, estrogen does appear to increase one's risk of stroke.
If you are considering HRT to relieve your menopausal symptoms, talk to your doctor to discuss the risks and benefits. Together you can decide what is right for you.
Do the Benefits of HRT Outweigh the Risk?
Hormone replacement therapy is an effective treatment for relieving hot flashes from menopause. But the known link between hormone therapy and increased breast cancer risk has discouraged many women and their doctors from choosing or recommending this treatment.
The type of hormone therapy (estrogen only or combination of estrogen and progestin), as well as the woman's individual characteristics, risk factors, and severity of menopause symptoms, should be considered when weighing the risks and benefits of HRT. The decision to use hormone therapy after menopause should be made by a woman and her health care provider after weighing all of the potential risks (including heart disease, breast cancer, stroke, and blood clots) and benefits (relief of menopause symptoms and prevention of osteoporosis).