Breast Cancer Risk Declines Quickly After Stopping Hormone Therapy: WHI Data in NEJM

Nick Mulcahy

February 04, 2009

February 4, 2009 — The well-documented increased risk for breast cancer associated with combined estrogen-plus-progestin therapy in postmenopausal women declines markedly after stopping therapy, according to Women's Health Initiative (WHI) data published in the February 5 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

The same data were presented in December 2008 at San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, and reported at the time by Medscape Oncology.

The women on estrogen-plus-progestin therapy, also known as hormonal-replacement therapy, had a median of 5.6 years of treatment and had a 26% increased risk for breast cancer, compared with placebo controls.

However, according to the new data, the risk returns to baseline in about 2 years.

"We can't define a safe interval for hormone-replacement therapy," study lead author Roman Chlebowski, MD, PhD, from the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, in California, said at a press conference in San Antonio.

N Engl J Med. 2009;360:573-587.

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