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"Estrogen's role revisited"

Toronto Star

Source: Toronto Star

Published: 14 Apr 2022

Category: Pharmaceutical

Rating: (2 stars)

what they said (Hover the mouse cursor over underlined words for more info)

Two important studies being published today challenge conventional thoughts about treating and avoiding breast cancer.
One suggests doctors may eventually be able to identify women who do not need chemotherapy. The other says women who have had hysterectomies can take estrogen to relieve symptoms of menopause without increasing their risk of breast cancer.
The first study, published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, indicates many of the 70 per cent of women whose cancers are fed by estrogen get so much benefit from estrogen- blocking hormonal therapy that chemotherapy adds little, if anything.

The original article can found in the Media Doctor archives.

how did it rate? (more information)

Criteria Rating
Total Score 4 of 10
Availability of Treatment Satisfactory (?)
Novelty of Treatment Satisfactory (?)
Disease Mongering Satisfactory (?)
Treatment Options Satisfactory (?)
Costs of Treatment Not Satisfactory (?)
Evidence Not Satisfactory (?)
Quantification of Benefits of Treatment Not Satisfactory (?)
Harms of Treatment Not Satisfactory (?)
Sources of Information Not Satisfactory (?)
Relies on Press Release Not Applicable
Quantification of Harms of Treatment Not Satisfactory (?)

what we said (Hover the mouse cursor over underlined words for more info)

The thrust of this report is that estrogen plays a role in different types of health effects depending on the health status of the woman who takes it. Some treatments respond better for women with different forms of cancer. It often depends if a woman has a cancer that responds or does not respond to estrogen. Those with a non-estrogen responder cancer had a " 23 per cent greater chance of surviving five years, disease free, if she has chemotherapy. For a woman whose cancer is fed by estrogen, chemotherapy increases her chance of surviving that long by 7 per cent, which is not statistically significant."
As well, there is difference in women with hysterectomies versus those without, from the Women's Health Initiative study and that "women who had not had hysterectomies and who took estrogen and progesterone had more breast cancer and more heart disease."
The key feature in this story is the lack of quantification of benefit or harm and this information should have been easy to include in the report.

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