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Women with BRCA Mutations Can Take Hormone-Replacement Therapy Safely After Ovary Removal

Posted Jun 02 2011 6:40pm

Women with the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutations, which are linked to a very high risk of breast and ovarian cancer, can safely take hormone-replacement therapy (HRT) to mitigate menopausal symptoms after surgical removal of their ovaries, according to new research from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania which will be presented on June 6 during the American Society for Clinical Oncology's annual meeting. Results of the prospective study indicated that women with BRCA mutations who had their ovaries removed and took short-term HRT had a decrease in the risk of developing breast cancer.

 

Research has shown that in women who carry the BRCA mutations, the single most powerful risk-reduction strategy is to have their ovaries surgically removed by their mid-30s or early 40s. The decrease in cancer risk from ovary removal comes at the cost of early menopause and menopausal symptoms including hot flashes, mood swings, sleep disturbances and vaginal dryness -- quality-of-life issues that may cause some women to delay or avoid the procedure.

 

"Women with BRCA1/2 mutations should have their ovaries removed following child-bearing because this is the single best intervention to improve survival," says lead author Susan M. Domchek, "It is unfortunate to have women choose not to have this surgery because they are worried about menopausal symptoms and are told they can't take HRT. Our data say that is not the case as these drugs do not increase their risk of breast cancer."

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