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Hormone Use Affects Colorectal Cancer Survival

Outcomes improved in women who report current use of estrogen therapy for five years or less

THURSDAY, Dec. 28 (HealthDay News) -- In women who are diagnosed with colorectal cancer, current use of postmenopausal estrogen therapy for five years or less is associated with significantly greater colorectal cancer-specific survival and overall survival, according to study findings published in the Dec. 20 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Jennifer A. Chan, M.D., of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, and colleagues studied 834 women from the Nurses' Health Study who were diagnosed with colorectal cancer between 1976 and 2000.

The researchers found that women reporting current estrogen therapy before diagnosis had an adjusted hazard ratio of 0.64 for colorectal cancer-specific mortality and 0.74 for overall morality compared to women reporting no previous estrogen use. But the survival benefit was most pronounced in those who reported current estrogen therapy usage for five years or less and was not significant in those who reported past or more prolonged use.

"Recent concerns regarding the potential increased risk of breast cancer and cardiovascular disease as a result of hormone-replacement therapy has substantially diminished routine use of estrogens," the authors write. "However, it is possible that agents possessing similar estrogenic activity without such adverse effects may offer benefits for patients with colorectal cancer. Additional efforts to understand the mechanisms through which estrogens influence colorectal carcinogenesis and cancer progression appear warranted," they conclude.

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