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Tuesday, 23 October, 2001, 09:44 GMT 10:44 UK
HRT trial for breast cancer patients
The study will monitor breast cancer patients
The study will monitor breast cancer patients
Research aimed at providing "hard evidence" on whether hormone replacement therapy is safe for women who have had breast cancer is being launched on Tuesday.

Doctors do not currently prescribe HRT to breast cancer patients because of fears the treatment may increase the chances of their cancer returning.

HRT relieves crippling menopausal symptoms, such as hot flushes and vaginal dryness.

Breast cancer treatments can make these menopausal symptoms worse, and many women who have undergone such treatments want to know if they can have HRT.


This trial will provide women with hard evidence on which they can base their decision about whether or not to take the drug

Dr Judith Bliss, Institute of Cancer Research, said:
It is hoped this study will provide the answers patients and their doctors want.

Previous research has shown contradictory evidence on whether HRT use is linked to breast cancer.

The Cancer Research Campaign trial, run by the Institute of Cancer in Surrey and the Royal Marsden Hospital, will study 3,000 women at 50 centres across the UK.

Half will be given HRT. The rest will be given advice on alternative ways of controlling their symptoms including the drugs Clonidine and Venflaxine, Evening Primrose Oil, reflexology, acupuncture and massage.

This large scale research follows an earlier small-scale study of 100 women treated at three London hospitals.

'Encouraging'

Mr Nigel Sacks, the trial chairman, said results from the pilot study were encouraging.

Breast cancer returned in three women, one who had taken no HRT, one had taken it for only six weeks and the third had been taking it for two years.


Hopefully, this trial will offer a way for women who've had breast cancer to get on with a normal healthy life

Marion Crane, patient
"We found that women are keen to get treatments to ease their symptoms and there seemed to be no interaction between the HRT and other medicines our patients were receiving, including Tamoxifen.

Dr Judith Bliss, of the Institute of Cancer Research, said: "This trial will provide women with hard evidence on which they can base their decision about whether or not to take the drug.

"It is a very important trial which has taken the Institute of Cancer Research and the Royal Marsden five years to set up and the CRC's funding will ensure a definitive answer will be reached."

'Normal life'

Marion Crane, from Stanford-le-hope in Essex, took HRT before she was diagnosed with breast cancer four years ago.

She said: "It's hard enough coping with breast cancer without having to deal with a variety of menopausal problems made worse by cancer treatments.

"Hopefully, this trial will offer a way for women who've had breast cancer to get on with a normal healthy life."

Professor Gordon McVie, director general of the CRC, said: "Thanks to cancer research, breast cancer patients have an excellent chance of full recovery, especially if diagnosed early.

"This means it's never been more important to consider those women's quality of life after treatment for the original cancer has been completed."

See also:

23 Jul 01 | Health
HRT heart treatment 'caution'
16 May 01 | Health
HRT 'cuts cancer risk'
17 Apr 00 | Health
HRT 'reduces heart disease risk'
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