Treating Breast Cancer After Menopause


Erin Azuse

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Most women go through menopause in their 40’s or 50’s. It officially starts 12 months after your last menstrual period and signals the end of your ability to get pregnant. As a result of your body’s decreased production of the hormones estrogen and progesterone during this time, you may experience a variety of symptoms, such as hot flashes and a slowed metabolism.

Women of menopausal age are at an increased risk for breast cancer. Though menopause itself does not cause breast cancer, the chance of developing breast cancer increases the older you get. It also appears the longer your breast tissue is exposed to estrogen, the greater your breast cancer risk. For this reason, women who go through menopause later than the age of 55 and those who take hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to ease menopause symptoms may be at an increased risk of breast cancer.

If you are diagnosed with breast cancer after menopause, this can also affect your doctor’s treatment decisions. Some types of treatment are appropriate for women both before and after menopause. Others, however, are only used to treat postmenopausal women, because women who are still menstruating produce too much estrogen in their ovaries for certain treatments to be effective.

Revolutionary treatments have increased the life expectancy rates for breast cancer patients. Watch this video for more breast cancer facts.

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Review Date: May 12, 2017

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