Hormone replacement after gynaecological cancer

Maturitas. 2010 Mar;65(3):190-7. doi: 10.1016/j.maturitas.2009.11.017. Epub 2009 Dec 16.


Treatment of gynaecological cancer frequently results in the loss of ovarian function and menopausal symptoms. Symptoms of iatrogenic menopause are usually significantly more intense than those of natural menopause due to sudden onset of symptoms, younger age and its effects on common physical and psychological problems of cancer therapy like body image concerns and sexual dysfunction. The most effective treatment for menopausal symptoms is hormone replacement therapy (HRT). However, it is very controversial if HRT is safe in patients after a gynaecological malignancy. The main concerns are the potential stimulation of residual cancer and the induction of new hormone-dependent disease. However, the majority of the most common gynaecological malignancies like squamous cell carcinomas of the cervix, serous papillary epithelial ovarian carcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas of the vulva are not oestrogen dependent. Furthermore, current scientific evidence does not show HRT to adversely affect the outcome in patients after treatment for hormone sensitive cancers like early stage endometrioid adenocarcinomas of the endometrium. There are only a small number of gynaecological malignancies like low grade endometrial stromal sarcomas in which HRT is an absolute contraindication. Therefore, as maintaining quality of life and minimising the physical and psychological impact of treatment side effects is one of the most important factors in cancer care, it is imperative to give patients unbiased information about their individual cancer which in most cases will allow them to use HRT without any detrimental effect on their survival.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Contraindications
  • Estrogen Replacement Therapy*
  • Female
  • Genital Neoplasms, Female* / surgery
  • Humans
  • Menopause, Premature*
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local
  • Neoplasms / chemically induced