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Breast cancer treatment and menopause

A number of treatments for breast cancer can cause menopause. These effects can be temporary or permanent.

Regardless of whether menopause is temporary or permanent, a woman may experience menopausal symptoms during treatment for breast cancer. These symptoms usually stop once treatment finishes.

  • Many different chemotherapy drugs are used in the treatment of breast cancer. Not all chemotherapy drugs cause menopausal symptoms. Chemotherapy treatments change all the time – and so too does the risk of early menopause.
  • Some hormonal therapies can cause menopausal symptoms in younger women. If a woman is younger than 35 when she receives hormonal therapies, it’s more likely that her normal menstrual cycle will return when treatment with hormonal therapies finishes. Hormonal therapies can cause menopausal symptoms even in women whose periods stopped some years before they were diagnosed with breast cancer.
  • Surgery to remove the ovaries results in a permanent menopause.
  • The ovaries may be treated with radiotherapy to stop them working. This is different to having radiotherapy to the breast. Radiotherapy to the ovaries stops them from producing and releasing hormones and results in a permanent menopause.

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