EBCC: Hormone Replacement Therapy May Play Role In Breast Cancers Detected Between Screenings

BARCELONA, SPAIN — March 20, 2002 — Research from the Cancer Registry of Norway has revealed that a higher proportion of women who discover they have breast cancer between mammographic screenings have also used HRT (hormone replacement therapy) at some point in their lives, the 3rd European Breast Cancer Conference in Barcelona heard today (Wednesday 20 March).

Mrs Hege Wang, a researcher at the Cancer Registry, said that in addition, these women tend to have denser breasts, and this may be why their tumours were not detected during screening.

These findings come from a study set up to examine the association between cancers found between screenings (interval cancers), breast density and the reported use of HRT. Although it is already known that the use of HRT can make breasts denser, this study found that more HRT users than expected had dense breasts, and that interval cancers were detected more frequently than expected amongst women who had used HRT.

Breast density was divided into three categories: lucent (where there was less than 30 percent glandular tissue – the least dense), intermediate (30-70 percent glandular tissue), and dense (more than 70 percent glandular tissue). Six radiologists were asked to scrutinize a mixed set of mammograms which consisted of subsequent interval cancers, screening normal, and screening detected cancers. Information about whether the women had ever used HRT was collected by questionnaire.

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