According to a study by researchers at Mayo Clinic, patients of ovarian cancer tend to have better outcomes if they have been using oral contraceptive pills in the past. As reported by co-lead author Aminah Jatoi, M.D., an Oncologist at Mayo Clinic, various studies from multiple sources have highlighted the association of oral contraceptives with a reduced risk of developing ovarian cancer, which is one of the most fatal cancer’s in women. However, their study investigated the link between oral contraceptives and outcomes in patients who ultimately develop ovarian cancer.

The Study: Performing Statistically Evaluations

Dr. Jatoi and co-author Ellen L. Goode, Ph.D., an Epidemiologist at Mayo Clinic examined the outcomes of patients suffering from ovarian cancer who came to the clinic between 2000 and 2013. Every patient was made to fill a risk factor questionnaire regarding prior use of oral contraceptives. Of the 1,398 patients who filled the questionnaire, 827 reported that they had previously taken birth control pills.

The researchers then performed two statistical analyses on the clinical health data obtained from the patient’s electronic records. The first analysis showed that those patients who have a history of oral contraceptive use demonstrated improved progression-free survival, meaning that they lived longer without the disease worsening.

The second analysis gave less consistent results, highlighting a significant association between the use of oral contraceptives and progression-free survival, but not overall survival. The latter might be because elderly patients who had passed away might have died from causes other than cancer.

Finding A Possible Explanation: Recovery From Ovarian Cancer

Dr. Jatoi suggested some hypotheses for the possible beneficial effect of oral contraceptives in decreasing ovarian cancer progression. One of them states that by halting ovulation, the pill protects women from the repeated monthly alterations that occur on the surface of the ovaries. Hence, these pills may decrease the chances of DNA mutation and hence result in a non-fatal form of the disease in the future.

However, more research into the mechanisms behind this favorable prognosis is required. Such information might ultimately lead to the development of new therapeutic techniques to improve outcomes for patients of ovarian cancer. “Our study might provide a sense of hope for patients who are struggling with ovarian cancer”, concluded Dr. Jatoi. The study was published in the journal BMC Cancer.

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