Q: Can I resume HRT after breast cancer?

You asked. Dr. Barb answered.You say you had a lumpectomy in two quadrants and radiation therapy for treatment of breast cancer five years ago. Congratulations on being cancer-free at this point! You’re wondering if you can resume the estrogen and progesterone therapy you were taking before your breast cancer. You remember it as improving your “sex life, bone density, energy, mental outlook, and mental clarity."

This is a difficult decision, with no easy answer. It might depend on the details of your cancer, e.g., the estrogen/progesterone receptor status, whether lymph nodes were involved. For more widespread disease, with a greater risk of recurrence, it is less likely seen as an option. I certainly have breast cancer patients in my practice now on HT. They felt like the potential risk was worth the significant benefit they gained in symptom management with the HT. But this is where it is very individual.

Could you have a conversation about taking HT for at least 3-6 months to see if this really does significantly improve how you feel and function (you won’t have the answer to bone health improvement in that time)? If it doesn’t really improve your quality of life, then you know, and maybe you discontinue it. Oncologists, in my experience, generally are opposed to HT for breast cancer survivors.

Have you read Estrogen Matters? If you haven’t, you might want to. You would benefit from learning about the broader picture of hormones and risk.

Good luck in your decision-making!

Dr. Barb DePree MD
Dr. Barb DePree MD


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