What is the role of estradiol in the etiology of breast cancer?

Updated: Feb 04, 2021
  • Author: Pavani Chalasani, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: John V Kiluk, MD, FACS  more...
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Clinical trials of secondary prevention in women with breast cancer have demonstrated the protective effect of selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs) and aromatase inhibitors on recurrence and the development of contralateral breast cancers. [20] Use of SERMs in women at increased risk for breast cancer has prevented invasive ER-positive cancers. [21, 22, 23] These data support estradiol and its receptor as a primary target for risk reduction but do not establish that circulating hormone levels predict increase risk.

A number of epidemiologic and pooled studies support an elevated risk of breast cancer among women with high estradiol levels. [24, 25] The Endogenous Hormones and Breast Cancer Collaborative Group (EHBCG) reported a relative risk of 2.58 among women in the top quintile of estradiol levels. [26]

Upon thorough review of the collective data, the Breast Cancer Prevention Collaborative Group (BCPCG) prioritized additional factors that might be included in the validation phase of a risk prediction model and gave a high priority score to free plasma estradiol levels. [25] At present, routine measurement of plasma hormone levels is not recommended in the assessment of breast cancer risk.

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