Long-lasting menopause symptoms and higher breast cancer risk

Long-lasting menopause symptoms and higher breast cancer risk

Women who experience symptoms of menopause, like hot flashes or night sweats, for many years may be slightly more likely to develop breast cancer than women who never had these symptoms, a U.S. study suggests.


I think the clinical recommendation at this point could just be diligence to continue screening mammography adherence,” commented to Reuters Health Dr. Rowan Chlebowski, lead study author and an oncologist at the City of Hope National Medical Center in Duarte, California.


Regular mammographs


Women with long-lasting menopausal symptoms may have a slightly higher risk for breast cancer, but they are not more likely to die from the disease, the study found.

These women should get regular mammograms, but they don’t need to take different precautions than what’s currently recommended for breast cancer screening, Dr. Rowan Chlebowski told Reuters Health.


Vasomotor symptoms


According to ACOG, so called vasomotor symptoms - such as hot flashes and night sweats –

are the most commonly reported menopausal symptoms, occurring in up to 82 percent of women after natural menopause. Usually, these symptoms peak about a year after the final menstrual period and are not associated with any extra risk for breast cancer.

In a small proportion of women, however, the symptoms persist for many years.


Symptoms more than a decade


The new study focused on nearly 10,000 women with long-standing menopausal symptoms, half of whom had persistent symptoms for more than a decade. Researchers compared these women to nearly 16,000 women who went through menopause without any such symptoms.

During 18 years of follow-up, 1,399 women developed breast cancer - and the risk was 13 percent higher in the women with persistent vasomotor symptoms than in women who didn’t have these symptoms at all.