Breast Cancer Research and Treatment

, Volume 30, Issue 3, pp 283–292 | Cite as

Oral contraceptive use and the prognosis of breast cancer

  • Ines Schönborn
  • Peter Nischan
  • Klaus Ebeling


In 471 breast cancer patients the influence of a positive history of oral contraceptive (OC) use on survival was investigated. 297 (63%) patients used OCs during any period of their life and 92 (20%) used them still at the time of diagnosis. Sixty months after diagnosis OC users had a significantly increased overall survival (p = 0.037). Survival rates amounted to 79.5% and 70.3% for OC users and non-users, respectively. The effect persisted after adjustment for other prognostic factors and was mainly attributed to women who had taken OCs four years or longer (p = 0.025). Comparing the survival after a 56 months median follow-up dependent on duration of OC use (never, 1–48 months, ≥ 49 months) in subgroups of prognostic factors, the most significant influence on survival was observed among long-term users with tumors more than 2 cm in diameter (p = 0.005), with axillary node-positive tumors (1–3 nodes, p = 0.055/≥ 4 nodes, p = 0.019), and with tumors of low estrogen receptor (p = 0.015) or progesterone receptor content (p = 0.04). The difference in survival between OC users and non-users cannot be explained by the distribution of prognostic factors investigated (histological type, histological grade, tumor size, lymph node involvement, hormonal receptor content). OC users had an even higher percentage of poorly differentiated tumors (p = 0.003). These results suggest an effect of OC use on tumor biology during the preclinical phase of the disease.

Key words

breast cancer oral contraceptives prognosis 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ines Schönborn
    • 1
  • Peter Nischan
    • 2
  • Klaus Ebeling
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Obstetrics and GynecologyUniversity Hospital ‘Rudolf Virchow’, Freie Universität BerlinGermany
  2. 2.Department of Epidemiology and Social MedicineMedical School HannoverGermany
  3. 3.Berlin-Nieder-schönhausenGermany

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