Hormone replacement therapy and women with premature menopause--a cancer survivorship issue

Eur J Cancer. 2011 Jul;47(11):1623-32. doi: 10.1016/j.ejca.2011.04.007. Epub 2011 May 9.


The importance of addressing survivorship issues has been emphasised in recent years. As cancer therapies improve there is a growing population of cancer survivors, which includes many women with premature menopause. Women who are premenopausal at the time of their cancer diagnosis may have specific survivorship issues to be addressed, including infertility, early menopause and sexual dysfunction. These factors can continue have a significant impact on the quality of life of these patients at long term follow up. Data for this Review were identified by searches of MEDLINE, PubMed, and references from relevant articles using the search terms 'HRT', 'women/female cancer/tumour', 'menopause' and 'survivorship'. Abstracts and reports from meetings were excluded. Only papers published in English between 1980 and 2010 were included. The aims of this review are to: • Address the hormonal factors which impact on cancer survivorship for premenopausal women • Review the debate for the role of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) in cancer survivors • Provide information for physicians and patients regarding the management of hormonally driven survivorship issues (for different tumour types), based on current evidence The recommendations for practice are that HRT may be offered for the alleviation of vasomotor symptoms in cancer survivors who undergo premature menopause up to the age of natural menopause (51 years in the UK). HRT (including vaginal oestrogen preparations) is contraindicated in survivors of oestrogen receptor positive breast cancer and low grade endometrial leiomyosarcoma, where non-HRT alternatives should be considered to alleviate symptoms.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Endometrial Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Female
  • Hormone Replacement Therapy / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Menopause, Premature*
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Quality of Life
  • Receptors, Estrogen / metabolism
  • Risk
  • Survivors


  • Receptors, Estrogen