At the menopause, a woman’s natural production of the female hormone, oestrogen, diminishes, and she may experience the uncomfortable effects of flushes, night sweats, and vaginal dryness. Many women are prescribed Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) to relieve these symptoms. The effect on the breast may protect the normal contours against the shrinkage often associated with age.
Women over 50 are at greater risk of breast cancer than younger women. However, up to ten years’ continuous HRT does not seem to increase the breast cancer risk. Beyond that there may be a slightly greater risk than in non-users, but this needs to be balanced against the protection given by HRT against heart disease, stroke and osteoporosis.
The NHS Breast Screening Service offers free mammography to all woman aged 50-64 and beyond, on request. This detects a cancer before it can even be felt, leading to earlier diagnosis. Mammography is not a substitute for breast awareness, and women on HRT should check their breasts each month after the bleed, and report any abnormality to their doctor.