Hormone replacement therapy after risk reducing salpingo-oophorectomy in patients with BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations; a systematic review of risks and benefits

Gynecol Oncol. 2019 Apr;153(1):192-200. doi: 10.1016/j.ygyno.2018.12.014. Epub 2019 Jan 17.


Women with germline BRCA1 or BRCA2 (BRCA) mutations, are recommended risk-reducing salpingo-oophorectomy (RRSO) prior to menopause. Surgical menopause has significant impact on patients' health and well-being. Subsequently, concerns about surgical menopause influence uptake of RRSO in high risk women. The role of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) in BRCA mutation carriers undergoing RRSO has been controversial. In the general population, premature surgical menopause is associated with worse quality of life and cognitive function, and increased risk of bone and cardiovascular disease; HRT continued until the natural age of menopause is shown to alleviate a number of these effects. Conflicting information has been published on HRT and breast cancer risk. For BRCA mutation carriers, potential augmentation of already elevated breast cancer risk is of great concern. In this article, we provide a review of the literature on HRT in this high-risk population, including effects on quality of life, cardiovascular, bone, and brain health. We also review impact of HRT on breast cancer risk, with a discussion of HRT formulation and surgical approach. Though evidence is limited, HRT after RRSO has a number of reported benefits and does not appear to impact breast cancer risk reduction in BRCA mutation carriers. This information is critical when discussing RRSO with patients, as providers should review risks of early menopause and treatment options. This review provides information to assist with counseling this specific population.

Keywords: BRCA1; BRCA2; Breast cancer; Hormone replacement therapy; Risk reduction; Surgical menopause.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / etiology
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics
  • Female
  • Genes, BRCA1*
  • Genes, BRCA2*
  • Germ-Line Mutation*
  • Hormone Replacement Therapy / adverse effects
  • Hormone Replacement Therapy / methods
  • Hormone Replacement Therapy / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Quality of Life
  • Salpingo-oophorectomy