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Does anybody know about bio identical hormones for breast cancer survivors?

By August 25, 2009 - 8:18am
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I was diagnosed with breast cancer, estrogen and progesterone positive in October last year. I completed chemo in April and continue Herceptin infusions for the Her2+ status of my cancer. I am only 45 so being thrown into menopause following chemo therapy was quite a shocker and now I am on Tamoxifen which blocks the effects of estrogen in the body. I am very interested in bio identical hormones as a way of balancing my body and not starving it of estrogen, which is needed to support more than 300 bodily functions. Where do you find a doctor who is familiar with these and where are the compounding pharmacies who use these hormones? Do insurance companies typically support this type of treatment?

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EmpowHER Guest

There is a well known compounding pharmacy named "The Compounding Pharmacy of America" who deals in this kind hormonal dis-balance and dis function. This particular link can solve your problem refer to this link. http://compoundingrxusa.com/hormone-optimization/

April 24, 2013 - 11:44pm

Hi Koryn,
Diane certainly covered an excellent range of resources (thanks!), and your pharmacist is well educated on meds and their interactions. Congrats on completing most of your treatment; it is a surreal experience that can be enlightening at the same time. I was also diagnosed ER+PR+HER/2Neu+ in 2008, while going through menopause. I had been on bio-identical hormones for a few months, and my oncologist instructed me to stop all hormone therapy. In short, because there is really no definitive answer to what hormone therapy in general is doing to us. As you can see from all the references above, it's a controversial topic. Whether or not insurance covers it depends on your policy. I would certainly talk to your doctor about your concerns; if you are taking Tamoxifen in addition to hormones, it seems they would be working in opposition to each other.

Treatment choices become very personal, and I encourage you to continue to explore your options. My choice at this point is conservative regarding all treatments, whether "natural" or medical. What did help me with the return of hot flashes is a series of about a dozen acupuncture treatments, and adding a few tablespoons of organic flax seed oil to my salads. We hear it over and over for a multitude of health concerns, to avoid processed foods, increase vegetable and fruit intake, reduce red meat, minimize alcohol, stay active and manage stress. If I steer too far from this course, I pay the price with increased symptoms. I wish you all the best!

May 25, 2011 - 8:28am
EmpowHER Guest

I'm not sure what the bio identical hormone treatment is, but you may want to ask your oncologist. If that's not possible, try going down to your local pharmacy and talking with the technicians there. They have also been to medical school and will offer you their advice free of charge!

May 12, 2011 - 11:37am


Hi, and welcome to EmpowHer! Thank you so much for your question. Congratulations for being a breast cancer survivor. It sounds like you have been on quite a journey over the past year.

As you probably know, taking any kind of hormone replacement therapy after breast cancer is a pretty controversial topic, especially since, as you stated, Tamoxifen even blocks estrogen in the body to help prevent recurrence.

This is an excerpt from a CNN Health story about HRT and breast cancer:

"Although so-called bioidentical hormones are being touted as a safe alternative to traditional hormone therapy, they are not, said Dr. Margery Gass, director of the University Hospital Menopause and Osteoporosis Center in Cincinnati. "There's absolutely no sound evidence that they are any safer or more effective," she said.
"Menopause isn't a disease that needs to be treated, she said, but is in fact a natural state that even has health benefits.
"Supporters say these hormones are identical to those the body makes on its own, and are thus safer than formulations like those given to Women's Health Initiative participants, which were derived from horse urine. Bioidentical hormones have gotten a big boost from Suzanne Somers' books The Sexy Years and Ageless: The Naked Truth About Bioidentical Hormones."

Here's that full article:


This, on the other hand, is from Woman to Woman:

"Can bioidentical hormones be used for breast cancer patients?
The pendulum has swung so far that today, very few practitioners will prescribe any type of HRT — synthetic or bioidentical — for women who have had breast cancer or even a family history of breast cancer. In fact, many such women are given anti-estrogen drugs.
Dr. Dixie Mills, who co-developed Women to Women’s Personal Program, feels that we just do not have enough data to rule out HRT in every case, and prefers to look at each woman’s particular situation, history, pathology, and blood work.
Dr. Mills has breast cancer patients who, like Suzanne Somers, use low-dose bioidentical hormones by choice. These women have researched the issues, discussed them with their healthcare provider, and made a well-informed decision for themselves."

Here's that page:


This is a response from a cancer forum where women are writing in questions about HRT after breast cancer, including bio-identical:

"As a doctor, our advice is obivously to not use any hormones once you've been diagnosed with breast cancer. As you know we use drugs that counteract the effects of hormones to prolong survival (tamoxifen, aromatase inhibitors etc).
For your menopause symptoms, there are other means to alleviate your suffering, I'd as your doctor for guidance about specific alternatives."

Here's that forum, where many questions are similar to yours, and women are sharing info about what has worked for them:


And since so many of the sources that discuss HRT and breast cancer touch on Suzanne Somers, I thought this next article was interesting. Somers is a breast cancer survivor and an active proponent of bioidentical HRT, and has written books and made television appearances about it. In this story, U.S. News & World Report interviewed Somers but also ran her answers by a medical expert. Some of the differences are striking in their answers:


Super-confusing, isn't it? The intricacies of hormones and menopause are complex to begin with; when you throw in another complicated, hormonally affected condition, like breast cancer, there are no easy answers.

Is your present doctor aware of your interest in HRT? What does she or he think?

Are you also interested in pursuing other natural forms of relief from menopausal symptoms?

One of the ways to find a doctor who is experienced in this area may be to find a compounding pharmacist first and ask that pharmacist about doctors they regularly work with.

The International Academy of Compounding Pharmacists has a page to help you find their members:


And here are some listings of some compounding pharmacies by state:


(It's not a complete list, because I know of one near my home that's not listed there. But it may be a good start).

And the Pharmacy Compounding Accreditation Board has a page to help you find them, as well:


Does this information give you a place to begin?

August 25, 2009 - 10:07am
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