What does hormone replacement therapy (HRT) have to do with mammograms? It has been shown that HRT can actually affect mammogram results.
Mammograms are necessary to detect breast cancer in its early stages. For most women, mammograms are recommended at certain intervals after the age of 50. Women at a higher risk of breast cancer may begin receiving mammograms earlier than that.
The time for consistent mammogram screenings general occurs around the time women reach or have passed menopause. Hormone replacement therapy is often recommended to help women through the discomforts of menopause.
There are many side effects associated with hormone replacement therapy including an increased risk of breast cancer, depending on the HRT regiment used. Studies also show that mammogram results may be affected for women who use hormone replacement therapy.
Changes in breast density among users of HRT can affect mammogram screening sensitivity. Results can come back as either a false positive or a false negative for breast cancer.
Women who receive a false positive result from a mammogram often have to undergo a biopsy so the tissue can be checked to verify if the tissue is cancerous or not. Although it is a relief to find out there is no breast cancer, there is undue emotional stress from the time of the mammogram until receiving the results of the biopsy.
Breast cancer can also go undetected on a mammogram for HRT users. Early detection is necessary for a better treatment outcome. With a false negative result, a woman will be told she does not have breast cancer and treatment is delayed.
Even lower levels of hormone treatment and alternative therapies that contain ingredients similar to estrogen can affect mammogram screening results. New diagnostic tools and more sensitive mammograms may need to be developed to handle the variations in breast density caused by hormone replacement therapy.
Talk with your doctor about the benefits and risks before choosing a hormone replacement therapy to help with symptoms of menopause. Be sure to notify those performing your mammogram that you are on HRT prior to a screening. If you doubt the results of a mammogram, be sure to get a second opinion on your results, especially if you are on hormone replacement therapy.
THIS ARTICLE IS FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY AND SHOULD NOT REPLACE THE ADVICE OF A PHYSICIAN.
A. Evans; Hormone Replacement Therapy and Mammographic Screening; Clinical Radiology
E. Lundstrom, et al.; Mammographic breast density during hormone replacement therapy: differences according to treatment; PubMed.gov
OBGYN.net; Hormone Replacement Therapy and Mammogram Accuracy Saugerties NY