A meta-analysis of 52 epidemiological studies, involving a total of 21488 women with ovarian cancer, almost all from North America, Europe and Australia, was published in The Lancet on 13 February 2015 (see About the study). The findings from the study suggest that taking hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for the menopause, even for just a few years, is associated with an increased risk of developing ovarian cancer.
Comment from AMS
Dr Anna Fenton BHB, MBChB, PhD, FRACP
"This recent meta-analysis from the Collaborative Group raises the possibility of an increased risk of ovarian cancer with use of estrogen or combined estrogen-progestogen therapy.
The data is heavily influenced by the Million Women Study which is widely acknowledged to have significant flaws. There has been no correction for the BMI of the women, their previous use of the contraceptive pill or age at menopause.
In the days since the study was released examination of the relative and absolute risk calculations have shown them to be incorrect. The revised absolute risk increase appears to now sit at just under 1 extra case per 10,000 women per year; somewhat less than the study initially suggested.
Ovarian cancer is a rare condition but all the risks and benefits of hormone therapy need to be carefully considered when treating women at menopause.
Women should not stop hormone therapy based on this study but if they are concerned they should discuss the findings with their doctor."