A biological marker, strongly associated with early oral contraceptive use, for the selection of a high risk group for premenopausal breast cancer

  • H. Olsson
  • Å. Borg
  • S. -B. Ewers
  • M. Fernö
  • T. Möller
  • J. Ranstam


In a population-based group of women, consecutively diagnosed, with premenopausal breast cancer there was a significant correlation between tumour size and plasma prolactin (r=0.30;P<0.004). The concentration of estrogen receptor was negatively correlated to tumour size (r=−0.17;P<0.09). There were no substantial correlations between tumour size and progesterone receptor, plasma progesterone or estradiol. Adjustments for menstrual cycle day and age did not alter the above findings.

The ratio of plasma prolactin and estrogen receptor was significantly greater (P<0.037) for the group of the patients that had started using oral contraceptives before the age of 20 as compared with the other patients. Consequently, the tumour size was significantly greater in the group of early users (P<0.003).

The findings indicate that breast tumours developing in previous early users of oral contraceptives have a low estrogen receptor concentration, while these patients have plasma prolactin. The tumour size is greater in early users indicating a poorer prognosis than other women with breast cancer. As early use of oral contraceptives increases, breast cancer risk and a high ratio of plasma prolactin and estrogen receptor concentration of the primary tumour characterize early oral contraceptive users the ratio may be a valuable marker for the breast cancer risk.

Key words

Marker Premenopausal breast cancer Oral contraceptive use Estrogen receptor Progesterone receptor Plasma prolactin 



estrogen receptor concentration


Progesterone receptor concentration


oral contraceptive use


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Copyright information

© Humana Press Inc. 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • H. Olsson
    • 1
  • Å. Borg
    • 1
  • S. -B. Ewers
    • 1
  • M. Fernö
    • 1
  • T. Möller
    • 2
  • J. Ranstam
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of OncologyUniversity HospitalLund
  2. 2.Southern Swedish Regional Tumour RegistryLundSweden

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