NOTE: Since its discovery in 1995, this type of hereditary cancer has changed from one type of cancer, caused by mutations in only one gene to several types of cancer, caused by mutations in any of many different genes. As a result, all labels used to describe this syndrome, such as ''breast cancer gene'', ''BRCA'', ''hereditary breast and ovarian cancer'' and ''HBOC'' tell only part of the story, leaving out well over half of those who are affected. To better serve our patient group, we are in the process of changing our name and updating all resources to reflect the fully inclusive and future forward RISKY GENES™ brand. We ask for your patience during this process.
There is increasing evidence that lifestyle changes can reduce menopausal symptoms. Certainly increasing exercise and having a healthier diet can only help. However, caution should be taken in the area of supplements that contain high levels of plant estrogen, since the reduction of estrogen is usually the goal for those who carry risky genes. As always, check with your doctor before beginning any new regimine.
When women experience menopause, especially early menopause, they often wonder how it will affect their lives. Aside from the emotional impact that comes with early menopause, women will have to deal with a series of physical changes. In some cases, these changes may increase a woman's risk for certain side effects, both in the short and long term. Estrogen, the most important female hormone, plays a role in regulating many different functions throughout the body. When estrogen production diminishes for the reasons discussed above, women often feel the effects immediately. In young women facing early menopause, this decrease in estrogen levels represents a risk of developing other health conditions. Each individual is different, so the side-effects and the intensity will vary.
Loss of Libido
Possible short-term side-effects:
Changes in Odor
Pre-menopausal women who are given estrogen-suppression therapies after a cancer diagnosis or for cancer prevention will experience menopause, as will women who have their ovaries/fallopian tubes removed for the same reasons. There is also some evidence that women with BRCA mutations are more likely to enter early menopause as compared to women without risky genes, even if they don't have chemical or surgically-induced menopause.
There are a wide array of treatments and lifestyle changes that have been shown to help both the typical symptoms and the possible short and long-term side effects of menopause. In the case of preventative surgery, hormone replacement may be possible if breast are no longer intact. For now, the long-term effects of hormone therapy after oophorectomy are unclear, bu it is increasingly being prescribed to reduce symptoms and carry young women through to the normal age of menopause, usually if breast are no longer intact. Below is some of the literature available on the subject to aid you and your medical provider when making a decision regarding hormone replacement therapy.
Vaginal estrogen creams, rings and tablets effectively address vaginal dryness in menopausal women; however, there is concern that vaginal estrogen may not be safe for women with a history of estrogen-dependent (ER+) breast cancer. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Committee on Gynecologic Practice supports safety of these treatments if non-hormonal approaches do not alleviate their symptoms but decision to use vaginal estrogen “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.
When it comes to warding off osteporosis, of the little data that exists, it is encouraging that a well-known osteoporosis drug may also prevent cancer.
Management of early menopause for risky gene carriers presents additional issues as compared to the general population, so in many cases management of symptoms will be guided by current recommendations for the general population:
Clinical practice guideline has been prepared by the Menopause and Osteoporosis Working Group, reviewed by the Clinical Practice Gynaecology and Family Physician Advisory Committees, and approved by the Executive and Council of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada
When considering any chemical or surgical treatment,consider the benefits and risks in consult with a medical professional well-versed in HBOC syndrome.
Possible long-term side-effects