Hormone therapy and breast cancer
Climacteric. 2018 Dec 17:1-4. doi: 10.1080/13697137.2018.1527305. [Epub ahead of print]
Hormone therapy and breast cancer: risk communication and the ‘perfect storm’.
Many factors are considered when a woman estimates her personal risk of breast cancer. Common to most decisions are four separate influences that have convinced the public and many health-care providers that breast cancer is the greatest concern for menopausal women and that menopausal hormone therapy (MHT) is generally responsible.
Historically there have been well-documented situations in which big pharma and doctors have not put patient interests first.(Surptise, surprise – my comment.)
Conflicting reports about the safety of MHT and the media imperative to always increase readership by presenting a compelling scary story have created an underlying distrust of science, doctors, and MHT. Numerical and statistical illiteracy in the general population creates a situation where lotteries succeed despite astronomical odds and the risks of medical interventions are exaggerated by their description using relative, rather than absolute, risks.
Finally, mammographic overdiagnosis contributing to improved breast cancer survival has contributed to the ‘popularity paradox’ (more screening – more enthusiasm) especially among survivors and advocacy groups. As a result, worry about breast cancer has overshadowed concern about cardiovascular diseases as the major cause of death and disability in the later years. The ongoing challenge for clinicians dealing with menopausal women is to bridge the gap in risk perception with evidence-based common-sense advice.