Is Hormone Replacement Therapy Safe After Cancer Treatment?

My question has to do with the subject of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) vs. natural products. I am 42 years old and have undergone a total hysterectomy with removal of my ovaries because of uterine cancer. I’ve just completed radiation therapy and am looking forward to better days and ways of feeling good! I have been reading about HRT pros and cons and my doctors are aware of my search, are cooperative and have given advice.

Uterine cancer is the fourth most common malignancy in American women. Today, more than 70 percent are successfully cured and that means survivors will often deal with estrogen depletion for years. Estrogen deprivation can lead to the classic symptoms of menopause as well as an increase in the long-term risks of heart disease and osteoporosis.

Hormones have generally been withheld based on the theory that it could “fuel the fire” — that any remaining cancer cells might be stimulated by estrogen and lead to a recurrence. While the scientific proof of this theory is lacking, estrogen replacement therapy for women who have been treated for uterine cancer is still controversial.

The results are encouraging and suggest hormone replacement may be a reasonable option. Yet there is still no perfect answer. You have to decide what’s best in your situation. The benefits of estrogen in terms of your quality of life may well outweigh concern for a possible recurrence. But, if you decide to take estrogen, be sure to talk to your doctor about taking progestin as well — it could help block any stimulating effect of the estrogen on residual cells.

I hope this helps with your decision.

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