Researchers believe hormone therapy should not be stopped prior to mammograms

Sep 28, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) are recommending that menopausal women on hormone therapy (HT) continue their treatment prior to having their annual mammogram screenings. These recommendations appear as an editorial in the current on-line issue of Journal of the North American Menopause Society.

Annual mammography screening is credited with a significant reduction in breast cancer mortality in women older than 50, and is considered a pillar of routine healthcare maintenance in most populations. Sensitivity, specificity, and optimal performance of mammography depend on a number of variables including breast density. While subjective and objective increases in mammographic breast density have been reported in up to 30 percent of postmenopausal women taking HT, the majority of women in this age group have low breast densities to start with and the magnitude of the increase with HT is small in most. Furthermore, improvements in screening technologies (digital mammography) have shown promise in overcoming hindrances in denser breasts. It is thus extremely unlikely that a minor increase in density is going to mask the mammographic detection of any early if present.

"We do not believe everyone on HT should consider stopping treatment one to two months prior to their mammogram," said lead author Raja Sayegh, MD, an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at BUSM. "Such a practice is likely to precipitate the recurrence of nuisance symptoms for which most menopausal women take HT nowadays, with no convincing evidence of improved screening accuracy. While there may be other good reasons to consider stopping HT, improving the mammographic detection of early cancers should not be one of them," he added.

Instead, the researchers recommend that should alert their HT patients to the possibility of an augmented mammographic density, or other artifacts, that may require additional evaluation. "This should become part of the office routine, as it has become part of mammography reporting routine. Women who have thus been alerted, are less likely to be ridden with fear and anxiety when they receive a recall notice from the department," said Sayegh.

Source: Boston University Medical Center

Explore further: Experts call for higher exam pass marks to close performance gap between international and UK medical graduates

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Mammography rates declining in the United States

May 14, 2007

Since 2000 mammography rates have declined significantly in the United States, according to a new study. Published in the June 15, 2007 issue of CANCER, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society, the study by ...

A break from hormone therapy doesn't improve mammograms

Jun 01, 2009

Some women take a short break from using postmenopausal hormone therapy before getting their breasts screened for cancer with mammography. They hope to lower their risk of being called back afterward for unnecessary extra ...

Recommended for you

Obese British man in court fight for surgery

Jul 11, 2011

A British man weighing 22 stone (139 kilograms, 306 pounds) launched a court appeal Monday against a decision to refuse him state-funded obesity surgery because he is not fat enough.

2008 crisis spurred rise in suicides in Europe

Jul 08, 2011

The financial crisis that began to hit Europe in mid-2008 reversed a steady, years-long fall in suicides among people of working age, according to a letter published on Friday by The Lancet.

New food labels dished up to keep Europe healthy

Jul 06, 2011

A groundbreaking deal on compulsory new food labels Wednesday is set to give Europeans clear information on the nutritional and energy content of products, as well as country of origin.

Overweight men have poorer sperm count

Jul 04, 2011

Overweight or obese men, like their female counterparts, have a lower chance of becoming a parent, according to a comparison of sperm quality presented at a European fertility meeting Monday.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Cancer stem cells linked to drug resistance

Most drugs used to treat lung, breast and pancreatic cancers also promote drug-resistance and ultimately spur tumor growth. Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have discovered ...

Easter morning delivery for space station

Space station astronauts got a special Easter treat: a cargo ship full of supplies. The shipment arrived Sunday morning via the SpaceX company's Dragon cargo capsule.