Ovarian Suppression: Right in Some Cases, Not in Others

Posted by lewisvillefm on October 21st, 2016

An estimated 246,000 American women receive a positive diagnosis of breast cancer each year. The path ahead for women in regard to treatment may vary greatly. That is because breast cancer does have a number of different subtypes that may result in varying treatment recommendations. A women’s age in regard to menopause may also play a role in treatment recommendations. For pre-menopausal women, for example, a recommendation for ovarian suppression may be made to coincide with chemotherapy and other treatments.

Ovarian suppression is a type of hormone therapy that is meant to halt the production of oestrogen. This hormone, produced in the ovaries, sometimes fuels breast cancer growth. By halting production of oestrogen, doctors aim to more readily treat cancer by starving it of its food source, so to say. When used in conjunction with other therapies, ovarian suppression can prove quite beneficial.

While hormone therapy has long been used in the treatment of different forms of cancer, ovarian suppression has been largely a wildcard in the treatment of breast cancer until fairly recently. With not enough conclusive data to back its use, some clinicians have hesitated to employ the therapy. Three recent long-term clinical trials, however, have found a number of benefits that can go along with the use of ovarian suppression in treating estrogen receptor positive breast cancer. The therapy, however, isn’t necessarily recommended for all patients with this form of breast cancer.

Researchers have found that women who have low-grade tumors that are lower risk may not experience any benefits from ovarian suppression. This was found in the studies to be especially so for women in their mid-40s. Since ovarian suppression introduces the symptoms of menopause during the duration of treatment, avoidance of hormone therapy remains recommended in this scenario. The same studies, however, found that women who are younger and had higher risk cancers gained a significant benefit from ovarian suppression. More women who fit the younger, higher risk profile may find this type of hormone treatment now recommended for them.

Women who are diagnosed with breast cancer are urged to speak with their healthcare providers about all treatment recommendations. It is important to note that breast cancers are not all alike and a women’s unique case may necessitate specific treatments. Regardless of recommendations in each unique case, women should feel comfortable speaking with their healthcare providers about all potential benefits, risks and possible side effects. Since breast cancer is a concern for all women, early screening on a routine basis is recommended.


About Author

Lewisville/Flower Mound Oncology Group, a division of Choice Cancer Care – is an independently owned and operated oncology practice that is completely focused on unique, comprehensive patient care.

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