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Women with BRCA mutations can take hormone-replacement therapy safely after ovary removal
Date:6/1/2011

(CHICAGO) 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 Monday, June 6 during the American Society for Clinical Oncology's annual meeting (Abstract #1501). 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, MD, an associate professor in the division of Hematology-Oncology and director of the Cancer Risk Evaluation Program at Penn's Abramson Cancer Center. "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 these drugs do not increase their risk of breast cancer."

Senior author Timothy R. Rebbeck, PhD, associate director of population science at the Abramson Cancer Center, notes that BRCA carriers may worry based on other studies conducted in the general population showing a link between HRT and elevated cancer risk that taking HRT may
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Contact: Holly Auer
holly.auer@uphs.upenn.edu
215-200-2313
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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