Drop in Breast Cancer Among White Women May Have Stalled


Many American women abandoned hormone replacement therapy after a 2002 study found the treatment was tied to higher breast cancer risk. A sharp drop in breast cancer incidence among whites was observed soon after. However, a new study suggests that the 2002-2003 decline in breast cancer incidence among white women did not continue through 2007. The data suggests that the drop in breast cancers linked to women abandoning hormone replacement therapy (HRT) has now bottomed out.

Breast cancer rates among U.S. white women fell by about 7 percent between 2002 and 2003 after the release in 2002 of findings from the Women's Health Initiative study that linked HRT with an increased risk of breast cancer. To examine whether that trend has continued, American Cancer Society and U.S. National Cancer Institute (NCI) researchers reviewed breast cancer data collected from 2000 to 2007 by NCI Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) registries across the country.

The analysis revealed that the sharp decline in breast cancer rates among white women that occurred between 2002 and 2003 did not continue between 2003 and 2007. Instead, breast cancer rates among white women remained relatively stable from 2003 to 2007. "Postmenopausal hormone replacement therapy certainly had accounted for an increase in the incidence of developing a breast cancer. The use of postmenopausal HRT had sharply declined after multiple reports proved this relationship," noted one expert, Dr. Sharon M. Rosenbaum-Smith, a breast cancer specialist and surgeon at the Comprehensive Breast Center at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Medical Center in New York City.

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