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HRT use does not worsen breast cancer prognosis

By Joanna

Clarke-Jones

New research showing HRT use does not worsen the prognosis in menopausal women with breast cancer should reassure GPs who stopped prescribing it in the wake of high-profile scares, say experts.

The findings will help resolve questions left unanswer-ed by the Million Women Study over whether women diagnosed with breast cancer should continue HRT.

The new study of 1,607 women aged 50-65, presented at the British Association of Surgical Oncologists' meeting last month, found women taking HRT for relief of menopausal symptoms at the time of diagnosis with breast cancer were no more likely to die or suffer a recurrence than women not on the therapy.

One of the researchers, Dr Ramachandran Prasad, a specialist registrar with an interest in the breast at University Hospital of North Staffordshire, said the study looking at the records of women over a five-year period found 'overall 60 per cent of breast cancers are diagnosed in the age groups 50-65 ­ the use of HRT just does not make any difference to mortality or recurrence'.

In some cases HRT was beneficial in reducing tumour size.

Dr Prasad claimed that among women with tumours less thn 1cm, failure to use HRT for menopausal symptom relief was 'virtually criminal'.

Dr David Sturdee, a consultant gynaecologist and member of the Committee on Safety of Medicines expert advisory group on HRT, welcomed plans for a larger study on the issue co-ordinated by the Institute of Cancer Research in London.

He said: 'All the studies so far show people who have breast cancer do not have a worse projection if taking HRT, some suggest that those on HRT come off better.'

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