Hormone Replacement Therapy And Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian cancer risks increased with hormone replacement therapies

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

(RxWiki News) It’s well established that certain forms of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can increase a woman’s risk of breast and ovarian cancer. A new study looked at which types of hormones used to treat menopause symptoms upped risks.

Long-term use of both estrogen alone and estrogen plus progestin hormone replacement therapy regimens are associated with increased risks of ovarian cancer.

However, for the average woman, that increased risk is tiny.

"Make sure your doctor knows your cancer family history."

A National Cancer Institute study uncovered these trends.

Researchers worked with 92,601 women who were participating in the National Institutes of Health-AARP (NIH-AARP) Diet and Health Study.

Study members were given questionnaires to answer in 1996–1997 and were followed for up to ten years - through 2006.
Increased risks for ovarian cancer were seen in:

One of the study's investigators, Britton Trabert, PhD, of the National Institutes of Health, told dailyRx News, "Our study showed that women who took menopausal hormone therapy for 10 or more years had between a 1.7 and 2-fold increased risk of ovarian cancer compared to women who did not take menopausal hormones."

The greatest increased risk was among women who had received estrogen-only therapies. Women who took long-term estrogen and progestin HRT also saw increased risks.

Dr. Trabert then translated what this means. "In other words, among women aged 55-79 who did not take menopausal hormone therapy we observed that about 4 in 10,000 developed ovarian cancer. Among women who did take menopausal hormone therapy for 10 or more years the number of ovarian cancers increased to between 6.5 and 8 per 10,000 women."

This study was supported by the National Institutes of Health and published in September in the British Cancer Journal. No conflicts of interest were disclosed.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
September 19, 2012
Last Updated:
September 21, 2012