RCGP urges patients not to panic as result of research linking HRT to breast cancer

Publication date: 29 August 2019

Professor Martin Marshall, Vice Chair of the Royal College of GPs, has responded to research in The Lancet on the relationship between HRT and breast cancer.

He said: “The menopause can be a very difficult time for women, and HRT can help many to control its unpleasant and distressing symptoms, and drastically improve their quality of life.

“The link between HRT and an increased risk of breast cancer has been known for some time. But it is a complex relationship, and only relates to preparations of HRT that contain certain progestogens - the addition of which is necessary for women who have not had a hysterectomy - and it appears that some combined HRT preparations have a higher breast cancer risk than others.

“This research highlights the importance of taking a holistic approach to prescribing, considering all the different factors potentially affecting an individual’s health and wellbeing, which is what GPs are highly trained to do. It also demonstrates how vital it is that patients are involved in decision-making about their health, fully-informed about the various risks and benefits associated with a treatment.

“There is still a lot of evidence to suggest that HRT is safe and effective, and current clinical guidelines recommend it as an appropriate treatment for some women going through menopause. Nevertheless, it is important that clinical guidelines are evidence-based, and that this study is taken into account as clinical guidelines are updated and developed.

“We would urge patients not to panic as a result of this research, and to continue taking HRT as it has been prescribed to them - and we would urge prescribers to do so as normal, until clinical guidelines recommend otherwise. If a patient is concerned about her HRT prescription, she should discuss it with her GP at her next routine appointment.”

Further Information

RCGP Press office: 020 3188 7494/7633/7574/7575
Out of hours: 0203 188 7659

Notes to editor

The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 52,000 family doctors working to improve care for patients. We work to encourage and maintain the highest standards of general medical practice and act as the voice of GPs on education, training, research and clinical standards.

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