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Fewer women may be seeking breast cancer testing as a result of decline in the use of hormone therapy to treat symptoms of menopause, according to a new study published in the journal Cancer.
Researchers from the American Cancer Institute analyzed numbers from surveys administered to more than 14,000 women between 2000 and 2005. The results showed that as hormone therapy became less common during that time, the number of women who sought mammograms also dropped.
Hormone therapy was once a common treatment for women who suffered severe symptoms associated with menopause. However, in 2000, a study came out connecting the therapy to increased breast cancer risk. Since then, it has become a much rarer treatment.
While this is a good thing for women's overall breast cancer risk, the researchers said fewer women going to their doctors for hormone therapy may deprive medical professionals of an opportunity to talk to their patients about the benefits of breast cancer testing. They believe this may account for declining mammogram rates.
"Our research corroborates that a doctor's recommendation is an important step in getting a mammogram and it shows that when circumstances change it can upset the balance and lead to unanticipated and undesirable changes in mammography use," said Dr. Nancy Breen, who led the study.
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