Menopause and cancer risk

Living with Cancer

Cancer Risk with Menopause

Menopause occurs for woman’s ovaries when they stop releasing eggs.

Menopause starts at around the age of 50, which is a natural phenomenon when the body’s estrogen and progesterone hormone production levels decrease, causing irregular menstrual periods that eventually stop. For women with cancer, menopause may begin earlier, which is known as premature menopause.

The symptoms of menopause include:

  • Hot flashes.
  • Night sweats.
  • Fatigue.
  • Vaginal dryness.
  • Painful sexual intercourse.
  • Sex drive decrement.
  • Osteoporosis.
  • Bladder control difficulties.
  • Recurrent bladder infections.
  • Mood swings and irritability.
  • Depression.
  • Anxiety.
  • Insomnia.
  • Irregular or heavy menstruation.
  • Weight gain.
  • Hair loss.
  • Food cravings.
  • Forgetfulness.

Menopause and Cancer Risk

The increased exposure to hormones such as estrogen and an increased number of ovulation are the two main factors for increased cancer risk after menopause.

Ovulation is the process of release of eggs from ovaries. Over the years, due to the release of many ovulation, the risk of uterine, breast, and ovarian cancers increases for women who begin menstruating before age 12 or start menopause after age 55.

Oral Contraceptives

These are generally known as birth control pills. The Research found out that they can lower ovarian cancer risk. By consulting your doctor, you can discuss the risks and benefits of oral contraceptives about any type of cancer possibilities. Using these oral contraceptives decreases the risk of ovarian cancer.

Cancer Risk with Combined Hormone Therapy 

Combined hormone therapy also called postmenopausal hormone therapy or hormone replacement therapy (HRT) that helps to relieve menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and osteoporosis. 

 The Women’s Health Initiative study conducted by The National Institutes of Health found that HRT increases the risk of certain conditions.

Women’s Health Initiative study

A study found that women taking HRT have a higher risk of the following health issues:

  • Stroke.
  • Blood clots.
  • Heart attack.
  • Breast cancer.

This study also showed that there is a lower risk of colorectal cancer and bone fractures for women. On the other hand, other research suggests that HRT is responsible for dying from non-small cell lung cancer.

HRT Recommendations for Cancer Patients

For women who have a history of breast cancer or a higher risk of breast cancer, the doctors do not recommend this HRT. However, for severe menopausal symptoms, women receive HRT at a low dose.

Doctors consider HRT with estrogen alone for women who have had a hysterectomy, which is the process of surgical removal of the uterus. Estrogen not balanced by progesterone can lead to uterine lining growth that increases the risk of uterine cancer.

Talk with your doctor by Sharing your symptoms and medical history before you are considering to get HRT. Furthermore, ask about possible solutions for relieving your symptoms. Then, decide by concluding the associated risks and benefits.