26 August 2016

When Prescribed in Small Doses and for a Short Time, HRT is an Effective Form of Treatment, Says RCGP

Honorary Treasurer at the RCGP, Dr Helen Stokes-Lampard responds to new research out today from the British Journal of Cancer, on the link between Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) and increased risk of breast cancer.

She said: “The menopause can cause great distress for many women – and for some specific symptoms, such as hot flushes, hormone replacement therapy is the only medical treatment for which we have good evidence.

“While many women are understandably concerned about the link that has been made between HRT and increased risk of breast cancer, the research today confirms that there are no adverse effects from the simpler type of HRT given to women who have had a hysterectomy (oestrogen only), and only a slightly increased risk from the combined treatment, used in women who still have their womb.

“It is important to remember that the increased breast cancer risk is closely related to prolonged use of HRT in older women and that these risks reduce substantially after treatment is stopped – usually within a year or two.

“When HRT is prescribed, best practice is to prescribe the lowest possible dose, for the shortest possible time - and any decision to issue a prescription needs to come out of a discussion between GPs and individual patients about their unique circumstances, the pros and cons of treatments, and how to achieve the best possible health outcome.

“Patients shouldn’t panic and stop taking HRT as result of reading about this study, but instead see their GP in a routine review appointment if they have any concerns and want to discuss the matter fully.”

Further Information

RCGP Press office: 020 3188 7574/7575/7633
Out of hours: 0203 188 7659


The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 50,000 family doctors working to improve care for patients. We work to encourage and maintain the highest standards of general medical practice and act as the voice of GPs on education, training, research and clinical standards.