If your breast cancer has oestrogen receptors, you should be offered hormone therapy. This type of breast cancer is known as hormone positive or hormone sensitive. Around four out of five breast cancers are hormone positive. You should have a receptor test to assess whether or not your breast cancer is hormone positive.
If the risk of your breast cancer returning is very low, you may choose not to receive hormone therapy as the risks may outweigh the benefits. You can speak to your breast care team to help you make a decision.
If your breast cancer is hormone negative you will not be offered hormone therapy, as it will not be effective in treating your breast cancer.
Hormone therapies for breast cancer should not be confused with hormone replacement therapy (HRT), which is used to treat the symptoms of menopause. HRT increases the levels of hormones in the body, whereas hormone therapies decrease hormone activity.
When will I have hormone therapy?
You will usually be given hormone therapy after surgery (known as adjuvant treatment). If you are having radiotherapy you will normally start hormone therapy at the same time as your radiotherapy. However, if you are having chemotherapy, you will usually have hormone therapy after this treatment.
Hormone therapy can sometimes be given before surgery, with the aim of shrinking the tumour and making surgery easier. This is known as neoadjuvant treatment.
Information last reviewed: November 2017
Next review due: November 2020
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