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Would you take HRT if your mum had breast cancer?

(37 Posts)
porolli Fri 23-Nov-12 18:21:44

That's it really. My GP has confirmed an early menopause (I'm 42). She said the usual response for someone my age would be to prescribe hrt until the normal age for menopause. However my mum had breast cancer at the age if 53 which she ascribes to hrt taken from age 50. Having had 12 cancer free years she now has secondaries in bones and lungs.
I am struggling with menopausal symptoms and really don't know what to do as obviously there has (historically) been such a negative association for breast cancer risks.
Has anyone been in this position? And/or what would you do?

MissBoPeep Sat 24-Nov-12 16:08:19

The other point is that the OP is having a premature menopause- which makes her at risk from a whole lot of potential problems which you at 53 don't have. Not the same thing at all.

orangeflutie Sat 24-Nov-12 16:12:50

OP It's a dilemma that I will have to face too.

I'm currently 44 and am probably slightly perimenopausal in that my periods are no longer regular, I often go two months without one but have no other symptoms yet.

My mother also developed breast cancer in her fifties. It was found from a mammogram and was described as a mass rather than a lump. She had been taking HRT, unfortunately I'm not sure how long but at the time the doctor and oncologist said it was extremely likely the HRT had caused the cancer. She has had a masectomy and tamoxifen and has now been in remission for over 5 years.
Fingers crossed after reading your post that nothing else develops.

For now I'm sitting on the fence but when I get into the menopause will have to look at all the pros and cons, quality of life etc.

porolli Sat 24-Nov-12 16:34:14

thanks for all your responses, it's very useful. I had decided years ago that I would never use hrt, based on my mum's belief. However I had not anticipated I would go through a premature menopause and how that would make me feel AND what I would be told about the associated long term health risks in other areas of having a premature one. What is so confusing is that there appear to be reports that hrt pre 52 ish is no different to having a normal menopause. I kind of want to believe that as I don't feel ready for this yet but I obviously need to think about my situation very carefully. My mother is now very ill indeed and that is very sobering. In response to queries, I asked my gp about early mammograms and was told I would not be entitled as I only have one first degree relative with breast cancer.

MissBoPeep Sat 24-Nov-12 16:59:00

I think you are absolutely right to say that you are simply replacing what would be there naturally if you took HRT up to 50-ish.

The other thing is that many of your mums ( and I really do understand having seen a friend die at 52 and leave behind a 13 year old only son) may have taken the older types of HRT such as Premarin, which are made from mares' urine.

The newer types such as gels and patches are a different kind of estrogen and if you combine these with a Mirena coil to get the protection for your uterus then you are limiting the effect of hormones in your system considerably. Women who take just oestrogen ( if they have no uterus) actually have lower breast cancer on HRT. All the stats back that up.

OP_ see a specialist who will talk to you about all the options. It's not an easy choice by any means.

MissBoPeep Sat 24-Nov-12 16:59:58

OP- you can pay for private mammograms if you wish- no need to go without if you want them.

Slinky Sun 25-Nov-12 22:50:05

I was just flicking through the Menopause section and this caught my eye as it's very close to home for me. This is my experience to date....

I have a very strong family history of mum, mum's sister, cousin and mum's aunt, all diagnosed under 50. I'm 41, and had a total hysterectomy, with ovaries preserved, back in February 2012. However, despite ovaries in place, they failed quite quickly after.

In June, my excellent Gynae recommended HRT patches, and with a lot of soul-searching on my part, and telephone calls to HRT/Breast Cancer Specialists in London on his part, I decided to opt for the patches. Immediately, he organised for me to have a mammogram done privately (hysterectomy was done privately) so that we would have a "base-line" of how my breast tissue was. The mammogram detected a lump on my right breast (obviously was there undetected by myself), so was given an ultrasound and a core biopsy. Results were a benign fibroadenoma.

5 months on, am planning to go back to GP this week to start the process of getting me onto the Mammogram screening programme. Gynae and Breast Surgeon I spoke to are both surprised I hadn't been picked up sooner.

I'm well aware of the risks I am taking and I know some people will disagree with my decision. However, the effects of my rapid descent into menopause were also quite hideous...not just the hot flushes, but I had severe decline into a depressive, almost suicidal state of mind.

thenightsky Sun 25-Nov-12 22:54:06

Recent studies show that BC risk is minimal if you start HRT early. Apparently the studies were done on women who started taking it at least 5 years AFTER menopause. Current thinking is start HRT at first symptoms of menopause and continue it as long as you want to.

MissBoPeep Sun 25-Nov-12 23:02:27

Slinky if you are able to use just oestrogen- as you have no uterus and don't need progestins- the stats show that you have a reduced risk of BC. Even the Million Women Study and the other major study which were all doom and gloom agreed on that.

It looks from the evidence so far that taking/using oestrogen alone is pretty safe and be beneficial- it's when you add in the 2nd hormone to protect the uterine lining that the cyclic activity seems to possibly afffect the breasts. But the latest study done in Denmark over 11 years shows no added risk.

You seem in good hands anyway and doing all the right htings.

MuminPinny Mon 26-Nov-12 12:18:53

Porolli - I've had mammograms on the NHS with just one first degree relative having had breast cancer (Mum age 32). Since my mum didn't have any sisters and nor do I maybe this has something to do with it as well as her very young age. You certainly have my sympathy - given my Mum's experience - I have avoided the Pill and would be very opposed to HRT which might be an issue sooner than I had thought as I may be perimenopausal at 41. That said, even my Mum (who thankfully is still alive 35 years after radical surgery) says it is worth keeping an open mind. I think I would try all other options first, rather than HRT, but if menopausal symptoms were so bad that I couldn't manage to go about daily life and look after my kids then I think that I would have to consider it. My paternal grandmother had the worst kind of osteoporosis and had an early menopause, so that would be another factor. That said my Mum had non-hormonal tablets which helped her osteoporosis which was brought on by ovarian removal and menopause at 32. In my view menopause at 41 or 42, although early, must be much better than 32. Good luck whatever you decide.

MissBoPeep Mon 26-Nov-12 15:42:13

It's worth having a look at this tie and reading some of the latest finding re. HRT and meno.

Some of the info now says that an early meno should be considered as under 47, not currently 45.

There is also some onfo about heart disease and how HRT does appear to prtect against this if taken early after meno.

Although cancer is terrible and every woman's nightmare scenario, there are in fact more female deaths through CHD than breast cancer. it's easy to focus just on cancer but heart disease is a bigger killer and women over 55/60 are at just as great a risk as men.

SnakesRule Fri 08-Mar-13 15:21:48

Menopause symptoms can be controlled with exercises and diet.It is a natural process and I cant see why anyone would want to take HRT which interferes with complex hormonal changes.How many women spend their early years on the pill, then fertility treatment in their 40th, then HRT. I am surprised there is no hormonal treatment for "puberty symptoms" yet.
It is my personal opinion, but I am really not keen on taking hormones in any form.

Bellaciao Tue 12-Mar-13 19:37:08

Just to say - although this is a bit off topic - since you made the comment: if you use HRT you are not "taking hormones" as such - just replacing them (notably oestrogen) because you become deficient.

Would you not take thyroxin if you were deficient in this or insulin if you were diabetic?

All of these are "natural" conditions as is the menopause - but what is the point of suffering unnecessarily - notwithstanding all the discussion that has gone on previously?

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