Menopause Symptoms, HRT and Mammograms

by Laura Ramirez on August 22, 2011

Menopause symptoms, HRT (hormone replacement therapy) and mammograms, it seems, are linked. When large numbers of women stopped going to their doctors for synthetic hormones due to the reported link between HRT and breast cancer published in the 2002 Women’s Health Initiative study, they also stopped having regular mammograms. Although the results of this study have been largely debunked due to the fact that most of the women who participated in it had gone through menopause as much as ten years earlier, it really curtailed the use of synthetic hormones.

Are women not having mammograms because they’re not taking hormones and believe that they have reduced their risk for breast cancer simply by this measure or is it because they have less contact with their doctors? Here’s what one article reports:

A new analysis has found that a decline in hormone therapy (HT) use among women aged 50 to 64 years is linked with lower mammogram rates among these women. Published early online in CANCER, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society, the study suggests that when women stop seeing their doctor for HT prescriptions, physicians do not have the opportunity to remind them that their mammograms are due.

Because current users of HT also tend to have higher mammography rates, Nancy Breen, PhD, of the National Cancer Institute in Rockville, Md, and her colleagues speculated that women who stopped taking HT might also have stopped getting mammograms. The reasoning was that if women typically need to see a doctor to renew their HT prescription and physicians typically take that opportunity to discuss and order mammograms, then stopping the HT prescription visits would result in a lost opportunity for doctors to remind women about mammograms.ᅠ…

Even if you’re not taking synthetic hormones, you should still have a mammogram, at least to establish a baseline. If you’re worried about exposure to radiation (some people believe that it’s the radiation that causes or at least contributes to the development of cancer), then there are other options available such as a thermagram, but it is not the best tool for early breast cancer detection which is clearly the mammogram.ᅠ

How do you feel about menopause symptoms, HRT and mammograms? Are you still seeing your doctor regularly (at least yearly for a pap smear and breast check) if you have gone through menopause and are not taking hormone therapy? Leave your comments below and let’s get a conversation going.

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