Friday, August 14, 2009

Is HRT safe after a triple-negative breast cancer diagnosis?

I got a question from a reader about taking hormone replacement therapy after a triple-negative breast cancer diagnosis—she is five years post-diagnosis disease free. (Yea for her.) I cannot find any research on this specific issue, but I did find a few related studies. Some of you might have similar questions, so I am posting this for others who might be in this situation.

• Some cases of HR- recur as HR+. Research on this was published in the Annals of Oncology. It was a pretty small sample, though—only 40 women initially.

• Estrogen can be a factor in the earliest formation of hormone-negative disease, according to research in the Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

• The association between HRT use and breast cancer was the same for TNBC as for other forms of breast cancer in another study in the Annals of Oncology.

• Oral contraceptives were associated with a higher risk of TNBC in a study published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention.

I would suggest trying alternative treatments such as acupuncture, yoga, and meditation. Also, watch your diet--eat lots of vegetables and fruit, reduce fats, processed carbs (sugar, white flour), caffeine, and alcohol. These will also help you fight cancer--an added bonus--and lose weight, which can reduce menopausal symptoms. Also, make sure you get enough calcium and vitamin D. I had success with evening primrose for hot flashes.


Renee said...

Thanks for doing the research!

I was diagnosed with TNBC June 2008. I finished all treatment in February 2009. Recently, I considered some type of estrogen to relieve the hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms, but was discouraged by the oncologist to take anything systemic. She did approve Estring (estradiol vaginal ring), stating that asmall amount of estrogen does get into the system - but it's not systemic.

I'm using Estrovan (OTC), drinking lots of cold water and keeping a fan close by. I'm not willing to give cancer any more fuel to grow or return.

Thanks again!


Patricia Prijatel said...

Thanks for the response, Renee. Did you check my blog entry on alternative methods of treating menopausal symptoms? It's at

Do keep in touch--and take care.


Anonymous said...

I appreciate this post so much!

Interestingly, I just had 2 OB/GYNs and a breast surgeon tell me that HRT was perfectly acceptable after TNBC (after my oophorectomy (BRCA1)). Because I am only 32, I am worried about being in menopause so early. However, my oncologist told me that studies show that HRT in women with (early) surgical menopause does not show any long term benefits over women who don't do HRT.