Science

Breast Cancer Risk From Using HRT is ‘Twice What Was Thought’

New research published last week reported the warning “Breast cancer risk from using HRT is twice what was thought” . The latest research confirms that the risks are higher than previously believed as researchers have long known about such a link.  As most instances of breast cancer are connected to hormones, it’s vitally important to be vigilant about Hormone Replacement Therapy.

The headline itself sparked fear in many women.

Joanna Moorhead, a writer with the Guardian and a recent breast cancer survivor writes, “The weird thing is that the reality of having it turned out to be nothing like as terrifying as the fear that I’d get it. Of course, hearing I had cancer was an appalling blow initially. There were a few weeks when my life was entirely dominated by the need to get information – from a whole raft of tests and operations; about how serious it was; and what could be done about it. But once I and the specialist had all the information and had worked out a treatment pathway that would both hopefully banish the disease and work for me, I realised things weren’t nearly as bad as I’d feared”.

According to her, the worst thing about getting cancer was the finding out, and the information-gathering. For her, after that, there was a route to sorting it out which made it easier.

She admits, “Sadly, of course I know that’s not how it is for every breast cancer patient. But for a majority of us, my experience is typical. Certainly, when I was ‘in the system’ I was very aware that I was surrounded by doctors and caregivers who were used to dealing with women like me for whom the disease would be a temporary problem, rather than a death sentence. More and more women, and again I was lucky enough to be one of these, are also able to deal with breast cancer without losing a breast or having major changes to their bodies. Oncoplastic surgery, which allows surgeons to remove the tumour and rearrange the breast tissue so you’re left virtually unscathed, is improving all the time, and I was very much a beneficiary of it. So too are tests that identify whether or not you need chemotherapy: again, I was one of the lucky ones”.

She says that her brush with breast cancer taught her above all was that it is extremely important to be vigilant, to report any changes and to listen to your instincts. It is imperative to seek out information if it’s confirmed that you do have a tumour.

She says, “But I wish I hadn’t spent so long living under a cloud of fear, because the reality wasn’t as bad as the anticipation. Panic, I learned, is the worst way to respond to cancer: it’s entirely understandable, but it doesn’t help in any way”.

The new research, when she read it all through calmly, talks about the risk of breast cancer. According to the report, if you’re taking HRT  the risk of breast cancer rises up slightly to 8% from the general 6% chance of it between the ages of 50 and 69.

This information is important to know, but it’s equally important to not panic about it. Women who think they might be affected by the story should talk to a knowledgeable medic in this field.

Laura Moorhead advises, “You need to weigh up the risks based on your individual attitude to life in general, and to risk-taking in particular. After all, you’re a whole person, not just a potential breast cancer candidate: in my experience, you make the best choices for your health if you keep that very much to the front of your mind”.

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