Still Cinderella With HRT

Hormone replacement therapy is safe for women with BRCA gene

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Women with a form of genetic breast cancer risk are often urged to have their ovaries removed after childbearing to prevent cancer occurence. This unfortunately causes early menopause, and it was believed that taking hormone replacement therapy to alleviate symptoms was dangerous.

Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania recently studied whether women with the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutations could take hormone-replacement therapy (HRT) to treat menopausal symptoms which occur after removal of their ovaries.  Their findings revealed that there was no difference in cancer occurence risk between women who did and did not take HRT. With HRT, Cinderella she can still be.

"HRT is safe for women with BRCA mutations whose ovaries are removed."

Lead author Susan M. Domchek, MD, an associate professor in the division of Hematology-Oncology and director of the Cancer Risk Evaluation Program at Penn’s Abramson Cancer Center reports ovary removal for women with BRCA1/2 following having their children is imperative as it is the very best intervention to improve survival.

Some women with the BRCA gene mutation choose not to have their ovaries removed as they are sometimes told they cannot take HRT, and they fear the symptoms of menopause. 

Senior author Timothy R. Rebbeck, PhD, associate director of population science at the Abramson Cancer Center, concurs with Domchek and offers a message of hope for women who are BRCA carriers: HRT doesn't negate ovary removal as a method of controlling breast cancer risk. He recommends if patients need to take short-term HRT, they can safely do it.

This study followed cancer free women with either BRCA1 mutations or BRCA2 mutations enrolled in the PROSE consortium database. All of these women had had their ovaries removed.

Then, two groups were established: One group took HRT and the second group did not. Women who had their ovaries removed had a lower risk of breast cancer than those who kept their ovaries. 14 percent of the women who took HRT after surgery developed breast cancer compared to 12 percent of the women who did not take HRT after ovary removal.

The result is not considered statistically significant.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
June 2, 2011
Last Updated:
June 4, 2011