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IVF women a third more likely to develop ovarian cancer

November 5, 2015

This article from The Telegraph reports on research presented at a US fertility conference by Professor Alastair Sutcliffe from the University College London who stated "compared to other women in the UK of the same age range and time frame we found the rates of breast and uterine cancer were no different to UK women as a whole. However there was an increased risk of ovarian cancer". 

Overall the results conclude:

  • 11/10 000 women who had not had IVF developed ovarian cancer
  • 15/10 000 women who had IVF developed ovarian cancer
  • This is a small increase of 4 per 10 000 

The report also states "Most analyses of the dataset suggest that this increased risk was principally because of the nature of women needing these treatments in the first place not due to the hormone drug treatments themselves".

Its difficult to determine a link with IVF and cancer directly because many women who are having IVF may also have infertility issues. Whereas in the general population infertility issues are not as prevalent. Therefore to distinguish which plays the biggest role in the observed increase in ovarian cancer development, IVF or infertility issues, is difficult. Ideally it may have been beneficial to compare ovarian cancer prevalence in women with infertility issues who had IVF and women with infertility issues who had no IVF. 

The paper concludes by saying "certain results argue against an association with assisted reproductive technology itself, but others leave open the possibility that it might affect risk".

If you have concerns do mention this to either your G.P. or your fertility specialist. To read The Telegraph article please follow this link: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/news/11941386/IVF-women-third-more-likely-to-develop-ovarian-cancer.html  


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