Objectives: To identify and describe current women's thoughts about the menopause, hormone treatment (HT) and perceptions about breast cancer.
Methods: Between December 2004 and January 2005, 4201 postmenopausal women in seven European countries were interviewed via a standardized computer-aided telephone interview protocol.
Results: Almost all women reported to have experienced climacteric symptoms, and 63% of the women rated them as being severe. Only 52% of women were aware of the benefits of HT for relief of climacteric symptoms. Although 84% felt that severe symptoms should be treated, only 40% had used HT at some point in time. Thirty-four percent of the women preferring treatment with natural products did so because of the risk of breast cancer associated with HT. HT was recognized by 59% of the women as one of the most important contributors to an increased breast cancer risk. Most women received their information about HT and breast cancer risk from the media.
Conclusions: This European survey reveals that the majority of women experience climacteric symptoms but that their decision whether or not to use HT is highly dependent on their concern about breast cancer risk. An increase in knowledge of the benefits and risks of HT is required for women to make appropriate decisions about hormone use.