Understanding Breast Cancer Risk Factors: Menopausal Hormone Use

In the past, many women used menopausal hormone therapy (MHT) to relieve hot flashes and other symptoms of menopause. But studies show that use of estrogen plus progestin increases the risk of both developing and dying from breast cancer. Although MHT is approved for the short-term relief of menopausal symptoms, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends women use only the lowest dose that eases symptoms for the shortest time needed.

When women take these hormones, their risk of having an abnormal mammogram increases within the first year of use and their risk of breast cancer increases within the first five years of use. The risk of breast cancer goes up slightly each year a woman takes estrogen plus progestin. One large study found women who use estrogen plus progestin for five or more years (and are still taking it) more than double their breast cancer risk.

When women stop taking MHT, the risk of breast cancer starts to decline. After about five to 10 years, the risk returns to that of a woman who has never used MHT.

Learn more:  http://ww5.komen.org/BreastCancer/PostmenopausalHormoneUse.html

Understanding Breast Cancer Risk Factors: Family History

While most people diagnosed with breast cancer do not have a family history of the disease, a family history of certain types of cancer can increase your risk of breast cancer. This increased risk may be due to genetic factors (known and unknown), shared lifestyle factors or other family traits.

family

  • Women who have a sister or mother who was diagnosed with breast cancer before age 50 have almost twice the risk of women with no family history.
  • A history of prostate cancer in a father or brother may also increase a woman’s risk of breast cancer, especially if the prostate cancer was found at a young age.

Breast cancer screening for women at higher risk

There are special breast cancer screening guidelines for some women at higher risk. If you have a higher risk of breast cancer, talk with your health care provider about which screening options are right for you. You may need to be screened earlier and/or more often. Additionally, if you have a higher risk of breast cancer, there are some options to help lower your risk including:

  • Taking risk-lowering drugs (tamoxifen or raloxifene).
  • Having preventive surgery (prophylactic mastectomy or prophylactic oophorectomy).
  • Such decisions should only be made after talking with your health care provider.

Learn more: http://ww5.komen.org/BreastCancer/FamilyHistoryofBreastOvarianorProstateCancer.html