Publication Abstract

Authors: O'Meara ES, Rossing MA, Daling JR, Elmore JG, Barlow WE, Weiss NS

Title: Hormone replacement therapy after a diagnosis of breast cancer in relation to recurrence and mortality.

Journal: J Natl Cancer Inst 93(10):754-62

Date: 2001 May 16

Abstract: BACKGROUND: Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is typically avoided for women with a history of breast cancer because of concerns that estrogen will stimulate recurrence. In this study, we sought to evaluate the impact of HRT on recurrence and mortality after a diagnosis of breast cancer. METHODS: Data were assembled from 2755 women aged 35-74 years who were diagnosed with incident invasive breast cancer while they were enrolled in a large health maintenance organization from 1977 through 1994. Pharmacy data identified 174 users of HRT after diagnosis. Each HRT user was matched to four randomly selected nonusers of HRT with similar age, disease stage, and year of diagnosis. Women in the analysis were recurrence free at HRT initiation or the equivalent time since diagnosis. Rates of recurrence and death through 1996 were calculated. Adjusted relative risks were estimated by use of the Cox regression model. All statistical tests were two-sided. RESULTS: The rate of breast cancer recurrence was 17 per 1000 person-years in women who used HRT after diagnosis and 30 per 1000 person-years in nonusers (adjusted relative risk for users compared with nonusers = 0.50; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.30 to 0.85). Breast cancer mortality rates were five per 1000 person-years in HRT users and 15 per 1000 person-years in nonusers (adjusted relative risk = 0.34; 95% CI = 0.13 to 0.91). Total mortality rates were 16 per 1000 person-years in HRT users and 30 per 1000 person-years in nonusers (adjusted relative risk = 0.48; 95% CI = 0.29 to 0.78). The relatively low rates of recurrence and death were observed in women who used any type of HRT (oral only = 41% of HRT users; vaginal only = 43%; both oral and vaginal = 16%). No trend toward lower relative risks was observed with increased dose. CONCLUSION: We observed lower risks of recurrence and mortality in women who used HRT after breast cancer diagnosis than in women who did not. Although residual confounding may exist, the results suggest that HRT after breast cancer has no adverse impact on recurrence and mortality.