Menopausal estrogen replacement therapy speeds growth of ovarian cancer

October 13, 2015

Spillman and her team now will begin to screen current antiestrogen therapies against the newly identified ovarian cancer genes to identify the pathways and compounds that are more likely to effectively treat ER+ ovarian cancer.

This study looked at the effect of estrogen replacement therapy in mice that already possessed ER+ ovarian cancer cells. It did not test whether the estrogen replacement actually could cause the development of these cancer cells. The study also dealt only with estrogen replacement, which is linked to higher risks of ovarian cancer, not combined estrogen/progesterone therapy that is used with women who retain their uteruses.

This research is too early to draw implications for use of estrogen replacement therapy in women, Spillman cautions. "We cannot make clinical recommendations based on what is happening in mice," says Spillman, one of just eight gynecological oncologists in Colorado. "Every woman is different and needs to talk to her doctor about the decision to use hormone replacement therapy."

The study was funded by a Gynecologic Cancer Foundation Career Development Award and the Liz Tilberis Scholars Award from the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation. This competitive award, a $450,000 three-year grant, is given to early-career researchers who are developing techniques for early diagnosis and improved care for women with ovarian cancer.

Source: University of Colorado Denver