Strategies for managing breast cancer risk after the menopause.
Sommaire de l'article
Postmenopausal women in Western societies are conscious of breast cancer as a potential cause of death and ill health, which they wish to avoid with the advice of their doctors. Yet many factors that predispose women to the development of cancer will have been laid down before the menopause, in their genetic makeup or during their adolescent years. Even in middle age it is important to take account of the intrinsic level of risk, and to give women advice tailored to their own individual risk level. This results from their family history, previous diseases such as benign breast disease, and previous treatment for breast cancer or Hodgkin’s disease. For those at the highest level of risk, strategies will include regular screening, prophylactic mastectomy, and the use of chemoprevention agents, such as tamoxifen. These women should avoid hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and control their menopausal symptoms and osteoporosis through the use of other agents now available – venlafaxine for menopausal symptoms and bisphosphonates for osteoporosis. Raloxifene is an agent under trial that may be valuable for breast cancer control as well as for osteoporosis. Women at standard population risk will require less robust preventive strategies, which will include screening and lifestyle modification. Their decisions regarding HRT should now be modified by recent evidence of associated risks. Recent studies show that tibolone causes less mammographic density and has a lower relative risk of breast cancer than combined estrogen/progestogen preparations. There is limited evidence that controlling obesity, participating in exercise and adopting a diet low in fats and high in fruit and vegetables will alter risk at this age. These precautions will, however, reduce the risk of other diseases common in this age group, such as hypertension, heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes mellitus. Alcohol, even in small amounts, is a risk factor for breast cancer. Given the cardioprotective effect of moderate alcohol intake, advice on alcohol must reflect the individual relative risk of cardiovascular disease and breast cancer.Personal risk assessment is relevant for all women. Screening and a healthy lifestyle are worthwhile approaches for all, with the more aggressive approaches such as chemoprevention and prophylactic surgery reserved for those who have substantially elevated levels of risk. Once the menopause has passed, screening is probably the most effective evidence-based tool for breast cancer control by early diagnosis.