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Ovarian cancer risk higher after IVF

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27th Oct 2011
Emma Sorensen   all articles by this author

RESEARCHERS are calling for more studies into the long-term effects of IVF after a study revealed women undergoing ovarian stimulation for IVF have a twofold increased risk of ovarian malignancies.

The cohort study from the Netherlands is the first to compare a range of ovarian cancer outcomes in a group of IVF patients against a group of subfertile women who have not had IVF.

The study involved more than 19,000 women who received at least one IVF treatment with ovarian stimulation between 1983 and 1995 and 6000 untreated women.

After nearly 15 years follow-up, the IVF group had twice the risk of any ovarian malignancy and four times the risk of borderline ovarian tumours defined as low-grade, less aggressive malignancies, compared to the non-IVF
group.

A “concerning finding” was an increased risk of invasive ovarian cancer among women receiving IVF compared to the general female population, but more research was needed on this, the researchers said.

The research failed to find a dose-response relationship between the number of IVF cycles and the risk of ovarian malignancy, but lead researcher Professor Flora van Leeuwen, head of the Department of Epidemiology at the
Netherlands Cancer Institute, said the study was likely underpowered to investigate this aspect and a larger study was planned.

Sydney gynaecological oncologist Dr Gregory Robertson, from the Royal Hospital for Women, cautioned that a large-scale prospective randomised trial would be needed to clarify the findings.

Hum Reprod 2011, online 27 Oct

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