The pill and cancer: a review of the literature. A case of swings and roundabouts?


  • Hilary A Knowlden RGN

    Corresponding author
    1. Senior Nurse/Clinical Nurse Specialist for Gynaecology, The Royal Marsden Hospital, Fulham Road, London, England
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Hilary A Knowlden 135 Derinton Road Tooting London SW17 8HZ, England.


The literature review has been earned out to determine the effects of the contraceptive pill in relation to the development of certain cancers Current research findings are presented, in an attempt to evaluate the risks and benefits associated with oral contraceptive use Particular attention is paid to the findings of a recent United Kingdom National Study, which supports the controversial link between the pill and breast cancer The actions of the combined oral contraceptive pill and the progesterone-only pill are explored regarding their influence on the ovarian, breast, endometnal and cervical cancers A background to the incidence and nsk factors associated with these cancers is given Included is a brief analysis of long and short-term use, dose variability and chemistry of the pill It emerges through the literature that the pill clearly has a protective function in relation to cancers of the ovary and the endometnum However, its influence on the development of breast cancer and cervical cancer remains irresolute pending further research In the absence of firm guidelines for advice to clients concerning the sensible use of oral contraceptives, proposals are included for a more reasoned approach to choice