Supportive Care in Cancer

, Volume 26, Issue 2, pp 643–650 | Cite as

Evaluating the efficacy of vaginal dehydroepiandosterone for vaginal symptoms in postmenopausal cancer survivors: NCCTG N10C1 (Alliance)

  • Debra L. BartonEmail author
  • Jeff A. Sloan
  • Lynne T. Shuster
  • Paula Gill
  • Patricia Griffin
  • Kathleen Flynn
  • Shelby A. Terstriep
  • Fauzia N. Rana
  • Travis Dockter
  • Pamela J. Atherton
  • Michaela Tsai
  • Keren Sturtz
  • Jacqueline M. Lafky
  • Mike Riepl
  • Jacqueline Thielen
  • Charles L. Loprinzi
Original Article



Women with estrogen deficiencies can suffer from vaginal symptoms that negatively impact sexual health. This study evaluated vaginal dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) for alleviation of vaginal symptoms.


This three-arm randomized, controlled trial evaluated DHEA 3.25 mg and DHEA 6.5 mg, each compared to a plain moisturizer (PM) over 12 weeks, to improve the severity of vaginal dryness or dyspareunia, measured with an ordinal scale, and overall sexual health using the Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI). Postmenopausal women with a history of breast or gynecologic cancer who had completed primary treatment, had no evidence of disease, and reported at least moderate vaginal symptoms were eligible. The mean change from baseline to week 12 in the severity of vaginal dryness or dyspareunia for each DHEA dose was compared to PM and analyzed by two independent t tests using a Bonferroni correction.


Four hundred sixty-four women were randomized. All arms reported improvement in either dryness or dyspareunia. Neither DHEA dose was statistically significantly different from PM at 12 weeks (6.25 mg, p = .08; 3.25 mg, p = 0.48), although a significant difference at 8 weeks for 6.5 mg DHEA was observed (p = 0.005). Women on the 6.5 mg arm of DHEA reported significantly better sexual health on the FSFI (p < 0.001). There were no significant differences in provider-graded toxicities and few significant differences in self-reported side effects.


PM and DHEA improved vaginal symptoms at 12 weeks. However, vaginal DHEA, 6.5 mg, significantly improved sexual health. Vaginal DHEA warrants further investigation in women with a history of cancer.


DHEA Sexual health Women Vaginal symptoms 



This work was supported by the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health [grant number UG1CA189823, to the Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology NCORP Grant], and also in part by the Public Health Service [grant numbers U10CA025224, U10CA035090, U10CA035101, U10CA035103, U10CA035113, U10CA035119, U10CA035267, U10CA035269, U10CA035415, U10CA035431, U10CA035448, U10CA037404, U10CA037417, U10CA052352, U10CA063848, U10CA063849, U10CA180790, UG1CA189863, and UG1CA189971]. This work was also supported in part by funds from a grant from the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Cancer Institute or the National Institutes of Health.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

This study was funded by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF). However, the work is solely that of the authors and does not represent the views of the NCI or BCRF. None of the authors have a relationship that represents a conflict with either of these funding agencies. The Data and Management Center of the Alliance has full control of the primary data and if there were a question about the data that required inspection, it could be made available.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Debra L. Barton
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jeff A. Sloan
    • 2
  • Lynne T. Shuster
    • 3
  • Paula Gill
    • 3
  • Patricia Griffin
    • 4
  • Kathleen Flynn
    • 5
  • Shelby A. Terstriep
    • 6
  • Fauzia N. Rana
    • 7
  • Travis Dockter
    • 2
  • Pamela J. Atherton
    • 2
  • Michaela Tsai
    • 8
  • Keren Sturtz
    • 9
  • Jacqueline M. Lafky
    • 3
  • Mike Riepl
    • 10
  • Jacqueline Thielen
    • 3
  • Charles L. Loprinzi
    • 3
  1. 1.University of Michigan School of NursingAnn ArborUSA
  2. 2.Alliance Statistics and Data CenterRochesterUSA
  3. 3.Mayo ClinicRochesterUSA
  4. 4.Southeast Clinical Oncology Research (SCOR) Consortium NCORP, Spartanburg Medical CenterSpartanburgUSA
  5. 5.Michigan Cancer Research Consortium NCORPAnn ArborUSA
  6. 6.Meritcare Hospital CCOPFargoUSA
  7. 7.Mayo Clinic FloridaJacksonvilleUSA
  8. 8.Metro-Minnesota NCORPSt. Louis ParkUSA
  9. 9.Colorado Cancer Research NCORPDenverUSA
  10. 10.Gateway Pharmacy NorthBismarckUSA

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