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Fam Cancer. 2009;8(1):23-8. doi: 10.1007/s10689-008-9208-6. Epub 2008 Aug 29.

Use of total abdominal hysterectomy and hormone replacement therapy in BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation carriers undergoing risk-reducing salpingo-oophorectomy.

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  • 1Department of Medicine and Abramson Cancer Center, University of Pennsylvania, 14 Penn Tower, 3400 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.



Risk-reducing salpingo-oophorectomy (RRSO) reduces the risk of developing ovarian and breast cancer in BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 (BRCA1/2) mutation carriers. The short-term use of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) after RRSO may relieve menopausal symptoms and does not appear to affect the breast cancer risk reduction gained by RRSO. Multiple factors may influence decisions regarding whether or not total abdominal hysterectomy (TAH) is done at the time of RRSO, whether HRT is elected after surgery, and if so, which type of HRT is selected. Our investigation has been to examine factors associated with TAH and HRT use and to determine if the choice of TAH at the time of RRSO and the type of HRT that was chosen has changed since the report of data from the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) in 2002, which showed that the relative risk for breast cancer is higher in subjects who used combined estrogen-progestin HRT compared with those who used estrogen alone.


We identified 73 female BRCA1/2 mutation carriers who were known to have undergone RRSO between 1/1972 and 11/2005 who had no history of breast or ovarian cancer at the time of the surgery. Information regarding whether or not TAH was done in addition to RRSO, the type of HRT, and the subsequent diagnosis of breast cancer was collected.


Of 73 unaffected BRCA1/2 carriers known to have had RRSO, 40 (40/73, 55%) also underwent TAH. Thirty-three of 73 (33/73, 45%) began HRT following RRSO. Of 33 HRT users, 17 (17/33, 52%) used estrogen only and 14 (14/33, 42%) used combined hormonal therapy. There was no difference in use of HRT in women with TAH (17/40, 43%) vs. those without (16/33, 48%) (P = 0.6). There was no difference in the proportion of women who underwent TAH before and after the WHI report in 2002. Use of HRT, most notably combined estrogen-progestin HRT, appears to have declined since 2002, although this result did not reach statistical significance.


In this single institution study, the majority of BRCA1/2 mutation carriers undergoing RRSO also underwent TAH, and a substantial number took HRT. TAH did not increase the likelihood of taking HRT compared to RRSO alone.

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