Breast cancer; Contraception; Estetrol; Estrogen receptor; Mammary gland; Menopause; Breast Neoplasms; Contraceptives, Oral, Hormonal; Female; Hormone Replacement Therapy; Humans; Mammary Glands, Human; Oncology; Cancer Research
[en] Estrogens have pleiotropic effects on many reproductive and non-reproductive tissues and organs including the mammary gland, uterus, ovaries, vagina, and endothelium. Estrogen receptor α functions as the principal mediator of estrogenic action in most of these tissues. Estetrol (E4) is a native fetal estrogen with selective tissue actions that is currently approved for use as the estrogen component in a combined oral contraceptive and is being developed as a menopause hormone therapy (MHT, also known as hormone replacement therapy). However, exogenous hormonal treatments, in particular MHTs, have been shown to promote the growth of preexisting breast cancers and are associated with a variable risk of breast cancer depending on the treatment modality. Therefore, evaluating the safety of E4-based formulations on the breast forms a crucial part of the clinical development process. This review highlights preclinical and clinical studies that have assessed the effects of E4 and E4-progestogen combinations on the mammary gland and breast cancer, focusing in particular on the estrogenic and anti-estrogenic properties of E4. We discuss the potential advantages of E4 over current available estrogen-formulations as a contraceptive and for the treatment of symptoms due to menopause. We also consider the potential of E4 for the treatment of endocrine-resistant breast cancer.
Funding text :
The authors are funded by the University of Liège, the Fondation Léon Fredericq, the Belgium National Fund for Scientific Research (FNRS) and the Télévie.