Hormone Therapy Risk
A new study shows that women on hormone therapy after menopause are at a higher risk of ovarian cancer. The risk is increased no matter whether they received estrogen or estrogen and progestin and whether the dose was delivered by mouth, a patch, or vaginally.
The study is published in the Journal of the American Medical Association and confirms earlier studies linking hormone therapy and ovarian cancer.
The study's lead author Lina Morch, a researcher at Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen University in Denmark tells WebMD this is the largest and most detailed study on the topic to date. Previous research had found no increased cancer risk if the woman was on hormones for less than five years.
In a study of more than 909,000 Danish women ranging in age from 50 to 79, more than 3,000 cases of ovarian cancers were found during the eight years of the study, with 140 extra cases linked to hormone therapy. Researchers concluded that hormone therapy users have a 38 percent increased risk of ovarian cancer and in this study hormones accounted for five percent of the ovarian cancer cases.
The risk continued even if women had been off hormones for two years. However, if the woman discontinued hormone therapy more than six years ago, the risk of ovarian cancer dropped 40 percent.
Ovarian cancer is highly fatal, so even a five percent increase in the cases of ovarian cancer is considered notable.
The 2002 Women’s Health Initiative study also found that hormone therapy increased the risk of breast cancer, strokes, and ovarian cancer. It was stopped early because of those findings.
Ovarian cancer forms in the tissues of the ovary. Adding a blood test to the "symptom index" for ovarian cancer, can lead to earlier and more accurate detection of the “silent killer.”
Symptoms of ovarian cancer are often subtle, but most women knew something was wrong before they were diagnosed. Adding a blood test to look for a tumor marker, can increase detection to 80 percent.
It’s estimated that there will be 21,550 new cases detected in 2009 and 14,600 deaths, according to the National Cancer Institute.
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