New York: Women whose menstrual periods start at a young age are less likely to survive ovarian cancer than their peers whose periods start later, new research shows. Similarly, women who have more menstrual cycles over their lifetime also have worse survival.
"Although we have relatively good knowledge about the influence of reproductive factors on the risk of developing ovarian cancer, knowledge is rather limited regarding the reproductive factors that may influence survival after diagnosis with this serious disease," Dr. Cheryl L. Robbins said in a statement.
As reported in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers, and Prevention, Robbins` group analyzed data from 410 women with ovarian cancer who were enrolled in the Cancer and Steroid Hormone study (1980 to 1982). During 9 years of follow-up, 212 women died.
Menstrual period onset before 12 years of age increased the risk of death by 51 percent relative to periods beginning at age 14 or older.
The results also indicate that patients with the highest number of lifetime menstrual cycles were 67 percent more likely to die during follow-up than were those with the lowest number of cycles.
The 15-year survival rates for women with the most lifetime menstrual cycles and those with the fewest were 33.3 and 56.7 percent, respectively.
"The significance of this paper is in suggesting new research directions, not in any immediate treatment changes," Dr. Mary B. Daly, an editorial board member of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers, and Prevention, said in a statement.