Does IVF Cause an Increased Risk of Cancer?

A recent study addressed the cancer risks associated with in vitro fertilization (IVF).

One of the biggest concerns for women undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF) is the potential risk of cancer as a result of the hormonal manipulation required for IVF. While the risk of ovarian and breast cancers has been one of significant concern, it is not entirely clear whether or not the overall cancer incidence is affected by IVF. Swedish investigators attempt to address this issue in a new paper published in the journal, Human Reproduction.

Using the Swedish Cancer Registry and population data of women seen in IVF clinics between 1982 and 2006, they found that the risk of cancer was increased among women ultimately seen in an IVF clinic compared to the general population (Odds Ratio 1.37,95% CI 1.27-1.48), and this included an almost 4-fold risk of ovarian cancer. This suggests that cancer and/or its treatments prompted fertility issues resulting in an increased utilization of IVF resources in cancer survivors. However, the cancer risk after IVF treatment was 26% lower than in the general population (OR 0.74, 95% CI, 0.67-0.82), and the authors noted it appeared driven by a lower rate of breast and cervical cancers among women undergoing IVF. These results are provocative but should also help address concerns of women, and of cancer survivors, who wish to be parents some day and require the specialty services of reproductive endocrinology.

For further information:

Kallen B, et al. Malignancies among woman who gave birth after in vitro

fertilization. Hum Reprod 2010 Nov 18 [Epud ahead of print].