BRCA1/2 mutation carriers have greatly elevated lifetime risks of breast, ovarian, and fallopian tube cancers. Bilateral prophylactic salpingo-oophorectomy is recommended to prevent cancer in these women. As it is often performed before natural menopause, it may be accompanied by menopausal symptoms, impaired quality of life, and increased cardiovascular risk.
In this review, we describe the indications, timing, and implications of salpingo-oophorectomy for BRCA-positive women, with a special focus on the risks and benefits of hormone therapy (HT). Furthermore, retrospective and prospective trials of HT in BRCA mutation carriers undergoing prophylactic salpingo-oophorectomy are debated.
Hormonal deprivation after prophylactic salpingo-oophorectomy may negatively impact health and quality of life; most women experience menopausal symptoms shortly after surgical operation. Literature data suggest that HT generally reduces vasomotor symptoms related to surgical menopause, improving sexual functioning without affecting survival.
Despite the limitations of retrospective and prospective observational studies, short-term HT seems to improve quality of life and does not seem to have an adverse effect on oncologic outcomes in BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation carriers without a personal history of breast cancer. Therefore, randomized and larger trials are urgently needed.