Important New Information On Vaginal Estrogen in Women with a History of Estrogen-Dependent Breast Cancer

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The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) in a new Committee Opinion, “The Use of Vaginal Estrogen in Women with a History of Estrogen-Dependent Breast Cancer,” outlines the options and treatments for female-specific survivorship issues. One particular challenge for providers to understand and address are vaginal symptoms of menopause, whether naturally occurring or treatment-induced.

“Among women with a history of estrogen-dependent breast cancer who are experiencing urogenital symptoms, vaginal estrogen should be reserved for those patients who are unresponsive to nonhormonal remedies. The decision to use vaginal estrogen may be made in coordination with a woman’s oncologist. Additionally, it should be preceded by an informed decision-making and consent process in which the woman has the information and resources to consider the benefits and potential risks of low-dose vaginal estrogen. Data do not show an increased risk of cancer recurrence among women currently undergoing treatment for breast cancer or those with a personal history of breast cancer who use vaginal estrogen to relieve urogenital symptoms.”

Here is the layperson (you know what I mean!) explanation of urogenital symptoms: the need to urinate more frequently, the inability to control urination (incontinence), dryness and itching in the vagina, increased urinary tract infections (hate it!), painful sex (no fun), and dry vagina (fat and plump are in for the vagina).

The good news! There is no need to “just live with it.”

Talk to your menopause specialist about LET (local estrogen therapy) if you are experiencing any of these issues.

My Motto: Suffering in silence is OUT! Reaching out is IN!

After struggling with her own severe menopause symptoms and doing years of research, Ellen resolved to share what she learned from experts and her own trial and error. Her goal was to replace the confusion, embarrassment, and symptoms millions of women go through–before, during, and after menopause–with the medically sound solutions she discovered. Her passion to become a “sister” and confidant to all women fueled Ellen’s first book, Shmirshky: the pursuit of hormone happiness. As a result of the overwhelming response from her burgeoning audiences and followers’ requests for empowering information they could trust, Ellen’s weekly blog, Menopause MondaysTM, was born.

  • I need to share this with a few friends who have this kind of cancer. It’s always good to have you as a resource.

    • So many women are dealing with vaginal atrophy (dry vagina) and are afraid to use local estrogen therapy. I thought it was important to share this important news. Thanks for sharing!

  • Thank you for sharing all of your wonderful health information! I get all of my menopause news from you! I’m through it, and have been for some time (I started at 40!) but I’m sure I need to know these for post-menopause!

    • Hopefully you will never need this info as it is only for women with a history of estrogen-dependent Breast Cancer. However, if you are ever in need of help with vaginal atrophy (dry vagina) you will know that LET (local estrogen therapy) is a safe option to talk to your menopause specialist about.

  • Important information for every women who is old enough to know better. You are the go to guru in hormonally related mature health.

    • Thanks, Nancy. If you know of someone who does have a history of estrogen-dependent breast cancer…please pass along the study. This way she can speak with her doctor with facts instead of fear. Thanks!

  • Lois Alter Mark

    Thank you for always keeping us up to date on the latest findings. I’m going to share this information with some of my friends.

    • I really appreciate that, Lois. So many cancer survivors suffer from vaginal atrophy and are afraid to even consider taking local estrogen therapy (LET). Reading about the latest info helps us base our healthcare decisions on facts instead of fear.

  • Very important information for sure. Thanks once again for sharing such vital information with us!

    • Thanks, Carolann. I think it is helpful for women who have a history of estrogen-dependent breast cancer who are suffering with vaginal atrophy (dry vagina) to understand and discuss with their menopause specialists.

  • WexfordFan

    My situation is complicated. I actually have a cancer of the hormonal system – that is, neuroendocrine tumors. My particular profile with this cancer, which is unusual to begin with, makes me one of a handful of patients in the entire world, and it is utterly exhausting trying to stay on top of it. Nonetheless, I just want to say here, in my opinion, you can’t actually live with vaginal atrophy. Not if it keeps getting worse. Mine was so bad it became a quality of life issue. My oncologists said because it was not systemic, they were not concerned. Thank goodness for that LET!

    • I am so happy that you shared your personal journey. When we share we help others. I am so happy that your oncologist prescribed local estrogen therapy. You are correct is is not the same as systemic hormone therapy. It is localized in the vagina. Works wonders on vaginal atrophy! Many doctors and the North American Menopause Society are trying to get the FDA warning on local estrogen therapy changed as it needlessly scares women from the help they need and deserve.

  • givemeyouridiots

    I recently started this therapy after thinking I had recurring yeast infections. It was “just” vaginal atrophy. It really has helped not only painful sex, but constant pain/dryness.

    • Thanks for sharing! So happy you found relief!

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