Patient perceptions of breast cancer risks and benefits of herbal treatment in menopause

Dr Usha Parvathy (General Practice), Dr Jon Adams, Dr David Sibbritt

This study received funding from the Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI) to examine the attitudes and perceptions of Hunter women who use herbal treatments for menopausal symptoms. Menopausal symptoms are common and cause considerable distress to the sufferers. There is understandably a hesitancy to take drugs such as Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) for such an event. Women are anxious about side effects of HRT, particularly because of the slightly increased risk of breast cancer. There is a growing perception that herbal treatment does not have the side effects and risks associated with HRT.

The project aims to: explore patient perceptions of side effects and risk of breast cancer associated with natural therapy, estimate the prevalence of the use of herbal therapy in a sample of menopausal women in the Hunter; describe their reasons for using herbal therapy as opposed to HRT and the details of that use.

The study utilises both a questionnaire survey and semi-structured interviews.