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Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2012 Feb;131(3):969-79. doi: 10.1007/s10549-011-1803-9. Epub 2011 Oct 7.

Breast tenderness after initiation of conjugated equine estrogens and mammographic density change.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, David Geffen School of Medicine at University of California, UCLA Medicine/GIM, 911 Broxton Ave., 1st Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90024, USA.


We examined the association between new-onset breast tenderness and change in mammographic density after initiation of conjugated equine estrogens (CEE). We analyzed baseline, year 1 and 2 data from 695 participants of the Women's Health Initiative Estrogen + Progestin (daily CEE 0.625 mg + medroxyprogesterone acetate 2.5 mg [MPA] or placebo) and Estrogen-Alone (CEE 0.625 mg or placebo) trials who participated in the Mammogram Density Ancillary Study. Using multivariable repeated measures models, we analyzed the association between new-onset breast tenderness (i.e. absence of baseline tenderness and presence of tenderness at year 1 follow-up) and change from baseline in percent mammographic density. Active therapy increased the odds of new-onset breast tenderness (CEE + MPA vs. placebo risk ratio [RR] 3.01, 95% confidence interval [95% CI] 1.96-4.62; CEE vs. placebo RR 1.70, 95% CI 1.14-2.53). Among women assigned to CEE + MPA, mean increase in mammographic density was greater among participants reporting new-onset of breast tenderness than among participants without new-onset breast tenderness (11.3 vs. 3.9% at year 1, 9.4 vs. 3.2% at year 2, P < 0.001). Among women assigned to CEE alone, increase in mammographic density at year 1 follow-up was not significantly different in women with new-onset breast tenderness compared to women without new-onset breast tenderness (2.4 vs. 0.6% at year 1, 2.2 vs. 1.0% at year 2, P = 0.30). The new-onset of breast tenderness after initiation of CEE + MPA, but not CEE alone, is associated with greater increases in mammographic density.

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