Survey Shows Women Need To Know More About Estrogen Therapy

November 02, 1998

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Many menopausal and post-menopausal women are not getting all the information they need or want on estrogen-replacement therapy, according to a study by a University of Illinois researcher.

As a result, they may be missing out on potential benefits from taking estrogen, like a lower risk of heart disease and osteoporosis, says Teresa Gallagher, a professor of community health. Or, in some cases, they could be taking estrogen without knowing some of the risks.

Gallagher led a survey of 1,469 women between ages 40 and 69 who were members of a Connecticut HMO, looking to determine the extent to which they were being counseled about estrogen replacement, as called for in various national clinical guidelines. A total of 1,004 (or 69 percent) of those women responded to a mail survey, with 693 saying they were either going through or were past menopause.

Among those 693 respondents, 69 percent said they had received at least some level of counseling about estrogen-replacement therapy by a doctor or health-care provider, Gallagher said. But only 40 percent said they had enough information and advice about their choices, and only 53 percent felt they had made an informed decision about whether or not to take the hormone.

Gallagher also noted that women in the group of 693 who did not consult a health-care provider about menopausal symptoms, for which estrogen replacement is often prescribed, were much less likely to get any counseling -- only 56 percent, versus 82 percent for those who did report symptoms. Only 60 percent of the group said a doctor had talked to them about osteoporosis, and only 54 percent about heart disease, compared with 71 percent who had been advised about breast cancer, she said.

Since the women were drawn from an HMO that has been recognized for its service to patients, Gallagher suggested that the figures for the general population may be lower.

The survey findings were presented in September at the annual meeting of the North American Menopause Society, held in Toronto. Working with Gallagher on the study, funded by Eli Lilly & Co., were Florence Comite and Jennifer FitzGibbons, with the Yale University School of Medicine, and John Aforismo and Juvene Grant, with M.D. Health Plan, the HMO where the study was conducted.

Not all women going through or past menopause should be taking estrogen, Gallagher said, but many may be too focused on a suggested link between estrogen and breast cancer, while ignoring the potential benefits from estrogen. "Women believe that they're much more likely to die of breast cancer than of heart disease, and that's wrong and many women don't understand what osteoporosis is, don't know how much of a threat it is to their health."

Women, in considering estrogen, may not have a "sense of the overall picture," Gallagher said. "It is a very difficult decision, and so it has to be kind of individualized you need to go through this process of going over your risk factors and really talking about the issues."

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Related Breast Cancer Articles from Brightsurf:

Oncotarget: IGF2 expression in breast cancer tumors and in breast cancer cells
The Oncotarget authors propose that methylation of DVDMR represents a novel epigenetic biomarker that determines the levels of IGF2 protein expression in breast cancer.

Breast cancer: AI predicts which pre-malignant breast lesions will progress to advanced cancer
New research at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, could help better determine which patients diagnosed with the pre-malignant breast cancer commonly as stage 0 are likely to progress to invasive breast cancer and therefore might benefit from additional therapy over and above surgery alone.

Partial breast irradiation effective treatment option for low-risk breast cancer
Partial breast irradiation produces similar long-term survival rates and risk for recurrence compared with whole breast irradiation for many women with low-risk, early stage breast cancer, according to new clinical data from a national clinical trial involving researchers from The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center - Arthur G.

Breast screening linked to 60 per cent lower risk of breast cancer death in first 10 years
Women who take part in breast screening have a significantly greater benefit from treatments than those who are not screened, according to a study of more than 50,000 women.

More clues revealed in link between normal breast changes and invasive breast cancer
A research team, led by investigators from Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, details how a natural and dramatic process -- changes in mammary glands to accommodate breastfeeding -- uses a molecular process believed to contribute to survival of pre-malignant breast cells.

Breast tissue tumor suppressor PTEN: A potential Achilles heel for breast cancer cells
A highly collaborative team of researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina and Ohio State University report in Nature Communications that they have identified a novel pathway for connective tissue PTEN in breast cancer cell response to radiotherapy.

Computers equal radiologists in assessing breast density and associated breast cancer risk
Automated breast-density evaluation was just as accurate in predicting women's risk of breast cancer, found and not found by mammography, as subjective evaluation done by radiologists, in a study led by researchers at UC San Francisco and Mayo Clinic.

Blood test can effectively rule out breast cancer, regardless of breast density
A new study published in PLOS ONE demonstrates that Videssa® Breast, a multi-protein biomarker blood test for breast cancer, is unaffected by breast density and can reliably rule out breast cancer in women with both dense and non-dense breast tissue.

Study shows influence of surgeons on likelihood of removal of healthy breast after breast cancer dia
Attending surgeons can have a strong influence on whether a patient undergoes contralateral prophylactic mastectomy after a diagnosis of breast cancer, according to a study published by JAMA Surgery.

Young breast cancer patients undergoing breast conserving surgery see improved prognosis
A new analysis indicates that breast cancer prognoses have improved over time in young women treated with breast conserving surgery.

Read More: Breast Cancer News and Breast Cancer Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to