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HRT and cancer

There is strong evidence that using hormone replacement therapy (HRT) raises a woman’s risk of breast, ovarian and uterine cancers. At the same time, it may lower the risk of colorectal cancer.

HRT and breast cancer

Combined HRT for menopause is a known cause of breast cancer, mainly in women who recently used or are still using the therapy. There is also some evidence suggesting that estrogen-only HRT may also increase the risk of breast cancer.

HRT and ovarian cancer

Studies suggest that both combined and estrogen-only HRT increase a woman’s risk of ovarian cancer – but the risk is low.

HRT and uterine cancer

Research shows that using estrogen-only HRT increases the risk of uterine cancer.

HRT and colorectal cancer

Some studies suggest that users of combined or estrogen-only HRT may have a lower risk of colorectal cancer, while others do not. HRT is not recommended to prevent colorectal cancer.

HRT after cancer

If you have a history of cancer and are thinking about taking hormone replacement therapy (HRT), you should know the risks.

  • Women with a history of breast cancer may be advised not to take HRT. This is because there are concerns that the estrogen in HRT may cause breast cancer to come back. Different studies tell us different things about the effects of HRT on women with breast cancer, so the risk is not yet fully understood.
  • HRT may be an option for women at a higher risk for breast cancer. Although women with an increased risk for breast cancer are usually advised not to take HRT, it might be advised if they have proper counselling and follow-up.
  • Women with a history of uterine cancer may be advised not to take HRT. Women who have had higher stage and higher grade uterine tumours have a higher risk of the cancer coming back.

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