Hormone Therapy, Age at Menopause Associated With Basal Cell Carcinoma Risk

(HealthDay News) — Late age at natural menopause and menopausal hormone therapy use are associated with increased risk for basal cell carcinoma, according to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Elizabeth K. Cahoon, PhD, from the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland, and colleagues used data from the U.S. Radiologic Technologists Study to examine the correlations between reproductive factors, exogenous estrogen use, and first primary basal cell carcinoma. They accounted for sun exposure, personal sun sensitivity, and lifestyle factors for geographically dispersed women with a range of ambient ultraviolet radiation exposure.

The researchers found that the risk of basal cell carcinoma was elevated with late age at natural menopause (hazard ratio [HR] for ≥55 years vs 50 to 54 years=1.5) and with any use of menopausal hormone therapy (HR=1.16). 

Women reporting natural menopause who used menopausal hormone therapy for 10 or more years had the most increased risk compared with those who never used menopausal hormone therapy (HR=1.97). There was no correlation for basal cell carcinoma risk with age at menarche, parity, age at first birth, infertility, use of diethylstilbestrol by participant’s mother, age at hysterectomy, or oral contraceptive use.

“Novel findings of increased [basal cell carcinoma] risk associated with [menopausal hormone therapy] in women experiencing natural menopause and for late age at natural menopause warrant further investigation,” the researchers wrote. “Users of [menopausal hormone therapy] may constitute an additional high-risk group in need of more frequent skin cancer screening.”


  1. Cahoon EK, Kitahara CM, Ntowe E, et al. Female Estrogen-Related Factors and Incidence of Basal Cell Carcinoma in a Nationwide US Cohort. J Clin Oncol. 2015;doi:10.1200/JCO.2015.62.0625.