Page URL: https://www.bionews.org.uk/page_153315

IVF does not increase long-term risk of ovarian cancer

23 November 2020
Appeared in BioNews 1073

Women who have received fertility treatment are not at increased risk of ovarian cancer, according to a new study. 

A team of researchers from multiple institutes in the Netherlands investigated a group of around 40,000 women with fertility problems, of which around 30,000 had at least one IVF cycle between 1983-2000. They found that among this group of 'subfertile' women, those who had received fertility treatment were not at increased risk of ovarian cancer compared to those who had not. 

'Even after three or more IVF treatments and in the long term (twenty years), the risk of ovarian cancer was not increased,' said Dr Mandy Spaan, postdoctoral fellow at the Netherlands Cancer Institute and the Academic Medical Center, Amsterdam, the Netherlands and first author of the study. 

Previous research into the association between receiving fertility treatment and ovarian cancer has led to inconsistent results. The women in the study – a nationwide cohort from the Netherlands – were (retrospectively) followed for a median of 24 years, over which time 158 invasive ovarian cancers developed. The incidence of invasive ovarian cancer was not increased in the women who had received fertility treatment versus those who had not, although the incidence of borderline ovarian tumours was increased. In contrast to invasive ovarian cancer, borderline ovarian tumours are not generally malignant and have a good prognosis. 

However, the study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that women who received fertility treatments did have a higher risk of invasive ovarian cancer than women in the general population. The authors attribute this to the high proportion of subfertile women who remain childless (whether or not they receive fertility treatment), claiming that childlessness is a known risk factor for ovarian cancer. Supporting this, women who had more successful IVF cycles had a reduced risk of invasive ovarian cancer. 

A limitation of the study is that ovarian cancer is very rare in women under 50 years of age, with the overall number of cancers detected very small. The lead author, Professor Flora van Leeuwen from the Netherlands Cancer Institute, said 'It is important to realise that even with the long follow-up in our study, the median age of the women at end of follow-up was only 56 years. As the incidence of ovarian cancer in the population increases at older ages, it is important to follow assisted reproductive technology-treated women even longer.'

SOURCES & REFERENCES
In vitro fertilisation does not increase the risk of ovarian cancer
Eurek Alert |  17 November 2020
IVF won't raise ovarian cancer risk: study
US News |  19 November 2020
Long-term risk of ovarian cancer and borderline tumours after assisted reproductive technology
Journal of the National Cancer Institute |  17 November 2020
Women do not have an increased long-term risk of ovarian cancer after IVF
World Today News |  18 November 2020
RELATED ARTICLES FROM THE BIONEWS ARCHIVE
11 January 2021 - by David Cansfield 
A new scanning technique has the potential to replace tissue biopsies for complicated ovarian cancer patients...
20 July 2020 - by Dr Molly Godfrey 
Screening all women over 30 for the most common breast and ovarian cancer causing mutations could prevent millions of cancer deaths worldwide, according to a new study...
1 June 2020 - by Eleanor Mackle 
Mini versions of mouse reproductive organs have been used to investigate how the most lethal ovarian cancers develop...
24 February 2020 - by Dr Melanie Krause 
Scientists from the University of Bristol have found a potential connection between the intake of statins and a reduction in ovarian cancer risk...
16 July 2018 - by Dr Charlott Repschlager 
Assisted reproduction techniques such as IVF do not increase a woman's risk of developing womb or breast cancer, a new study has found...
25 July 2016 - by Dr Marianne Kennedy 
IVF treatment does not increase a woman's risk of developing breast cancer later in life, a study has found...
HAVE YOUR SAY
to add a Comment.

By posting a comment you agree to abide by the BioNews terms and conditions


Syndicate this story - click here to enquire about using this story.