ERT and Endometrial Cancer Survivors
Endometrial cancer, the fourth most common cancer in American women, has an
overall cure rate of over 70 percent. It has long been known that estrogen
replacement therapy-or ERT-can increase the risk of endometrial hyperplasia,
a precursor for endometrial cancer or cancer of the lining of the womb. In
women who have not had a hysterectomy, therefore, combined use of estrogen with
a progestin is usually recommended to prevent this complication. But what about
women who already have endometrial cancer? Conventional wisdom suggested that
these women should not use estrogen therapy. However, a new study from the
University of California-Irvine [Obstetrics and Gynecology, 4/01]
shows that the use of estrogen replacement therapy (ERT), with or without progestins,
in women diagnosed with endometrial cancer does not appear to increase
their risk of recurring cancer or death. In this study, women who received
estrogen after their cancer treatments remained disease-free significantly longer
than a group of similar women who did not receive ERT. This is consistent
with other recent findings from the National Cancer Institute that women who
had been treated for breast cancer who resumed taking hormone replacement therapy
had LOWER cancer recurrence rates than women who did not take hormones.
What can prevent endometrial cancer? Regular Pap smears can detect early changes.
In addition, low-dose birth control pills have been shown to reduce the risk
of endometrial cancer.
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Created: 7/19/2001  - Donnica Moore, M.D.