Menopause and Breast Cancer
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women globally.
In Ireland one in nine women will develop breast cancer in the course of their lifetime.
Some statistics and data
3,100 new cases of breast cancer are diagnosed each year in Ireland with approximately 50,000 each year in the U.K.
- 30% of women are diagnosed between the ages of 20-50 years.
- 34% of women are diagnosed between 50 and 69 years.
- 36% of women diagnosed over 70 years.
- 5-10% of breast cancers are hereditary.
The good news is that survival rates from breast cancer are increasing all of the time, statistics pointing to 85% in Ireland and approximately 90% in the U.K.
Presently in Ireland there is no mandatory information booklet or education manual available for women who become menopausal post treatment. This needs to be addressed given that 64% of women are diagnosed with breast cancer before the age of 69 years. I have met many of these women, who have told me how isolating and lonely it can be and have endured, unsupported with debilitating symptoms for many years.
Every woman experience’s menopause differently. Thus, the need for an individualized approach to care and management.
The research points to 25% or 1 in 4 of us today having symptoms that negatively impact on our lives. Post breast cancer treatment this is far higher.
When considering management pathways for debilitating menopause symptoms, there are normally two pathways dependent upon whether you have oestrogen sensitive breast cancer or not. Natural or hormonal.
I must admit when researching breast cancer and menopause. I was surprised by the lack of information available publicly. There are some good natural leaders in the world of naturally navigating menopause. We had Ilona Madden from www.rightfood4u.ie, a nutritional therapist attend one of our recent midlife women rock cafes and share how we can empower ourselves and manage this time in life using food and supplements.
Other great leaders in the natural menopause field are Nicki Williams www.happyhormonesforlife.com Maryon Stewart www.maryonstewart.com Nigel Denby at www.hormonehealth.co.uk and Dr Marilyn Glenville. www.marilynglenville.com . They have very informative websites and podcasts on non medical ways to manage symptoms. Its all about finding the right fit for you.
For those who have symptoms that are adversely affecting your quality of life and may not have responded to natural management.(I dont believe we should have to suffer post breast cancer) It is worth reading, listening, watching some very reputable podcasts and you tube educational clips available on line at www.the menopause doctor.co.uk Dr Louise Newson in the U.K. has research backed information on HRT and breast cancer.
It is all about balancing quality of life and risk factors, empowering women with factual information and choice in order to live their best lives. Women to women support groups, sharing stories, is another initiative that would be of great benefit to women post surgery. If any one knows of any in Ireland would you please send on to me.
Some women report that Covid 19 has added another dimension to accessing supports for breast cancer this past year.
Both breast cancer Ireland and UK advocate for physical activity and lifestyle change. Many of the women I have met in menopause post breast cancer have re prioritized their health and wellbeing, making self-care non-negotiable. Finding exercise that one enjoys is key at midlife, drop perfection, start off small, and be sure to laugh and have fun!!!