What are guidelines for HRT in women at high risk of breast cancer?

Updated: Feb 04, 2021
  • Author: Pavani Chalasani, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: John V Kiluk, MD, FACS  more...
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There are currently no formal guidelines for the use of HRT in women at high risk for breast cancer (ie, women with a family history of breast cancer, a personal history of breast cancer, or benign breast disease). Only a few studies have evaluated the effect of HRT after a diagnosis of breast cancer. The largest of these, the HABITS (Hormonal replacement therapy After Breast cancer—is IT Safe?) study was stopped early because unacceptable rates of breast cancer recurrence and contralateral disease with 2 years of HRT use (hazard ratio, 3.5). [35]

In another randomized clinical trial, no increase in the risk of breast cancer recurrences was observed in women at a median follow up of 4.1 years. [36] Use of progesterone-containing HRT was limited by intermittent use, with continuous exposure avoided.

Combination formulations containing estrogen plus progesterone are contraindicated in women with a prior history of invasive disease, a history of ductal or lobular carcinoma in situ, or a strong family history of breast cancer. This recommendation poses a significant challenge when confronted with a patient suffering severe menopausal symptoms.

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