Committee Opinion No. 659: The Use of Vaginal Estrogen in Women With a History of Estrogen-Dependent Breast Cancer

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Abstract

Cancer treatment should address female-specific survivorship issues, including the hypoestrogenic- related adverse effects of cancer therapies or of natural menopause in survivors. Systemic and vaginal estrogen are widely used for symptomatic relief of vasomotor symptoms, sexual dysfunction, and lower urinary tract infections in the general population. However, given that some types of cancer are hormone sensitive, there are safety concerns about the use of local hormone therapy in women who currently have breast cancer or have a history of breast cancer. Nonhormonal approaches are the first-line choices for managing urogenital symptoms or atrophy-related urinary symptoms experienced by women during or after treatment for breast cancer. Among women with a history of estrogen-dependent breast cancer who are experiencing urogenital symptoms, vaginal estrogen should be reserved for those patients who are unresponsive to nonhormonal remedies. The decision to use vaginal estrogen may be made in coordination with a woman’s oncologist. Additionally, it should be preceded by an informed decision-making and consent process in which the woman has the information and resources to consider the benefits and potential risks of low-dose vaginal estrogen. Data do not show an increased risk of cancer recurrence among women currently undergoing treatment for breast cancer or those with a personal history of breast cancer who use vaginal estrogen to relieve urogenital symptoms.

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