Hormone replacement therapy and cancer survival: a longitudinal cohort study: protocol paper

Tom Alan Ranger, Judith Burchardt, Ashley Kieran Clift, Winnie Xue Mei, Carol Coupland, Pui San Tan, Sharon Dixon, Christopher Robert Cardwell, Julia Hippisley-Cox

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Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can help women experiencing menopausal symptoms, but usage has declined due to uncertainty around risks of cancer and some cardiovascular diseases (CVD). Moreover, improved cancer survival rates mean that more women who survive cancer go on to experience menopausal symptoms. Understanding these relationships is important so that women and their clinicians can make informed decisions around the risks and benefits of HRT. This study's primary aim is to determine the association between HRT use after cancer diagnosis and the risk of cancer-specific mortality. The secondary aims are to investigate the risks of HRT on subsequent cancer, all-cause mortality and CVD. We will conduct a population-based longitudinal cohort study of 18-79 year-old women diagnosed with cancer between 1998 and 2020, using the QResearch database. The main exposure is HRT use, categorised based on compound, dose and route of administration, and modelled as a time-varying covariate. Analysis of HRT use precancer and postcancer diagnosis will be conducted separately. The primary outcome is cancer-specific mortality, which will be stratified by cancer site. Secondary outcomes include subsequent cancer diagnosis, CVD (including venous thrombo-embolism) and all-cause mortality. Adjustment will be made for key confounders such as age, body mass index, ethnicity, deprivation index, comorbidities, and cancer grade, stage and treatment. Statistical analysis will include descriptive statistics and Cox proportional hazards models to calculate HRs and 95% CIs. Ethical approval for this project was obtained from the QResearch Scientific Committee (Ref: OX24, project title 'Use of hormone replacement therapy and survival from cancer'). This project has been, and will continue to be, supported by patient and public involvement panels. We intend to the submit the findings for peer-reviewed publication in an academic journal and disseminate them to the public through Cancer Research UK.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere046701
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number8
Early online date02 Aug 2021
Publication statusEarly online date - 02 Aug 2021


  • Young Adult
  • oncology
  • epidemiology
  • Hormone Replacement Therapy - adverse effects
  • Cohort Studies
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Middle Aged
  • Female
  • Neoplasms
  • Cardiovascular Diseases - epidemiology
  • sex steroids & HRT
  • Humans
  • Estrogen Replacement Therapy - adverse effects
  • Aged
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Breast Neoplasms


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