In a study published online in the Journal of Clinical Oncology on May 6, 2013, researchers reported results of a study investigating menopausal hormonal therapy (MHT) use and the incidence of ovarian cancer. When a report from the Women’s Health Initiative linked breast cancer incidence to the use of menopausal hormonal therapy in 2002, there was a significant drop off in MHT use. Given Given that MHT use is also associated with increased ovarian cancer risk, the researchers from the National Cancer Institute tested whether ovarian cancer incidence rates changed after 2002.
After analyzing data from over 170,000 women, the researchers found that “after a marked reduction in MHT use around 2002, ovarian cancer incidence rates demonstrated an accelerated decline, with the largest changes for endometrioid carcinomas. This strong temporal association, although not proving a causal role of hormones in ovarian carcinogenesis, suggests that future analytic research supporting cancer control efforts should clarify the role of hormonal exposures on the development and behavior of subtypes of ovarian cancer.”
Importantly, the article does not suggest that MHT causes or accelerates the growth of ovarian cancer, but highlights the need for more research in this area, and suggests another reason why women should discuss all risks of MHT with their doctors.