The Impact of Hormonal Contraceptives on Breast Cancer Pathology

Jesse A. Dorchak, Sifat Maria, Joseph L. Guarinoni, Anette Duensing, Stella Somiari, Jane Cavanaugh, Brenda Deyarmin, Hai Hu, Joji Iida, Craig D. Shriver, Paula A. Witt-Enderby*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


This retrospective case series study, using data obtained through questionnaires and histopathological diagnoses from 656 patients enrolled in the Department of Defense (DoD) Clinical Breast Care Project (CBCP), evaluated associations between hormonal contraceptive use and breast cancer pathology including benign breast pathologies. Three combination hormonal contraceptive agents (COCs) Lo Ovral (LO), Ortho Novum (ON), and Ortho Tri-Cyclen (OTC) were evaluated as they represented the most commonly used hormonal contraceptives in our cohort. The results of this study suggest that the ever use of LO + ON + OTC does not influence the overall incidence of benign breast condition or malignant disease compared to other COCs; however, patients that have used OTC had an association with a diagnosis of benign or luminal A pathologies whereas ON was associated with a diagnosis of benign and DCIS; LO showed no association with any diagnosis—benign or malignant. Patients that have used LO or ON were more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer at age ≥ 40 years whereas patients that had ever used OTC were likely to be diagnosed before the age of 40. Caucasians were less likely to have used OTC and more likely to have used ON; however, use of either hormonal agent positively correlated with premenopausal status at diagnosis and having a benign condition. Age at diagnosis, ethnicity, BMI, family history, menstruation status, and duration of use were all independent predictors of different histopathological subtypes. We conclude that patient-specific variables should be considered when deciding on which type of hormonal contraceptive to use to minimize the risk of developing breast cancer or a breast-related pathology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)240-253
Number of pages14
JournalHormones and Cancer
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2018
Externally publishedYes


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