Oral contraceptive use and ovarian cancer risk for BRCA1/2 mutation carriers: an international cohort study

Lieske H Schrijver, Antonis C Antoniou, Håkan Olsson, Thea M Mooij, Marie-José Roos-Blom, Leyla Azarang, Julian Adlard, Munaza Ahmed, Daniel Barrowdale, Rosemarie Davidson, Alan Donaldson, Ros Eeles, D Gareth Evans, Debra Frost, Alex Henderson, Louise Izatt, Kai-Ren Ong, Valérie Bonadona, Isabelle Coupier, Laurence FaivreJean-Pierre Fricker, Paul Gesta, Klaartje VAN Engelen, Agnes Jager, Fred H Menko, Marian J E Mourits, Christian F Singer, Yen Y Tan, Lenka Foretova, Marie Navratilova, Rita K Schmutzler, Carolina Ellberg, Anne-Marie Gerdes, Trinidad Caldes, Jacques Simard, Edith Olah, Anna Jakubowska, Johanna Rantala, Ana Osorio, John L Hopper, Kelly-Anne Phillips, Roger L Milne, Mary Beth Terry, Catherine NoguÈs, Christoph Engel, Karin Kast, David E Goldgar, Flora E van Leeuwen, Douglas F Easton, Nadine Andrieu, Matti A Rookus, EMBRACE Collaborators, GENEPSO Investigators, HEBON Investigators, IBCCS

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (SciVal)


BACKGROUND: Ovarian cancer risk in BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation carriers has been shown to decrease with longer duration of oral contraceptive preparations (OCPs) use. While the effects of OCPs in the general population are well established (∼50% reduction), the estimated risk reduction in mutation carriers is much less precise due to potential bias and small sample sizes. In addition, only a few studies have examined the associations between duration of use, time since last use, starting age, and calendar year of start with risk of ovarian cancer.

OBJECTIVE(S): To investigate in more detail the associations between various characteristics of OCP use and risk of ovarian cancer, to provide health care providers and carriers with better risk estimates.

STUDY DESIGN: In this international retrospective study, ovarian cancer risk associations were assessed using OCP data on 3,989 BRCA1 and 2,445 BRCA2 mutation carriers. Age-dependent weighted Cox regression analyses were stratified by study and birth cohort and included breast cancer diagnosis as covariate. To minimize survival bias, analyses were left-truncated at 5 years before baseline questionnaire. Separate analysis were conducted for each of the aspects of OCP use and in a multivariate analysis including all these aspects. In addition, the analysis of duration of OCP use was stratified by recency of use.

RESULTS: OCPs were less often used by mutation carriers who were diagnosed with ovarian cancer (Ever use: BRCA1 58.6%, BRCA2 53.5%) than by unaffected carriers (Ever use: BRCA1 88.9%, BRCA2 80.7%. The median duration of use was 7 years for both BRCA1 and BRCA2 carriers who developed ovarian cancer, and 9 and 8 years for ovarian cancer unaffected BRCA1 and BRCA2 carriers, respectively. For BRCA1 mutation carriers univariate analyses showed that both a longer duration of OCP use and more recent use of OCPs were inversely associated with risk of ovarian cancer. However, in multivariate analyses including duration of use, age at first use and time since last use, duration of use proved to be the prominent protective factor (compared with <5 years, 5-9 years HR=0.67;95%CI 0.40-1.12, 10+ years HR=0.37;95%CI 0.19-0.73; ptrend=0.008). The inverse association between duration of use and ovarian cancer risk persisted for more than 15 years (Duration of ≥10 years; BRCA1: <15 years since last use: HR=0.24 95%CI 0.14-0.43, 15+ years since last use: HR 0.56 95%CI 0.18-0.59). Univariate results for BRCA2 mutation carriers were similar, but due to limit sample size inconclusive.

CONCLUSION: For BRCA1 mutation carriers, a longer duration of OCP use is associated with a greater reduction of ovarian cancer risk and the protection is long term.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51.e1-51.e17
JournalAmerican Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology
Issue number1
Early online date2021 Jan 22
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Jul 1

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Cancer and Oncology
  • Medical Genetics


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