Hormone replacement therapy in gynecologic cancer survivors: Why not?

Division of Gynecologic Oncology, Greater Baltimore Medical Center and Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, Baltimore, MD, USA.
Gynecologic Oncology (Impact Factor: 3.77). 04/2011; 122(2):447-54. DOI: 10.1016/j.ygyno.2011.03.012
Source: PubMed


As a result of treatment, many women with gynecologic malignancies will go through menopause and display climacteric symptoms at an earlier age than occurs naturally. Iatrogenic menopause may adversely affect quality of life and health outcomes in young female cancer survivors. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) has often been withheld from women with gynecologic cancer because of concern that it might increase the risk of relapse or the development of new primary cancers. The purpose of this review was to examine the published literature on menopause management in gynecologic cancer survivors and highlight the risks and benefits of conventional and alternative HRT in this population.
A comprehensive literature search of English language studies on menopause management in gynecologic cancer survivors and women with a hereditary predisposition to a gynecologic malignancy was performed in MEDLINE databases through December 2010.
Both our review and a 2008 Cochrane review of randomized trials on the effects of long-term HRT demonstrate that for menopausal women in their 40s or 50s with and without gynecologic cancer, the absolute risks of estrogen-only HRT are low. Several prospective observational studies and randomized trials on HRT use in women with a genetic predisposition for or development of a gynecologic malignancy suggest benefits in quality of life with no proven adverse oncologic effects as a result of short-term HRT use.
In select women, it is reasonable to discuss and offer conventional HRT for the amelioration of menopausal symptoms and to improve quality of life. HRT does not appear to increase the risk of gynecologic cancer recurrences; however, this conclusion was largely based on observational data and smaller prospective studies.

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