SGO: Increased Risk of Endometrial Cancer in Women Undergoing in Vitro Fertilisation

MIAMI BEACH, FL — March 19, 2002 — Research has provided evidence of an increased incidence of endometrial cancer and melanoma – but not breast or ovarian cancers — in women who undergo in vitro fertilisation.

However, the study also showed that the control group, made up of women with infertility disorders, had an even greater increase in the increase in incidence of endometrial cancer.

There has been a concern that in vitro fertilisation (IVF) may cause an increased risk of hormonal cancers – namely breast, ovarian, and endometrial. The question of whether it was IVF specifically that caused this increase was explored at the 33rd annual meeting of the Society of Gynecologic Oncologists (SGO).

Curt W. Burger, MD, and colleagues from University of Rotterdam in the Netherlands looked at 18,298 women who had at least one IVF between 1985 and 1995, and compared them to a control group of 6,320 women who had infertility disorders but never received IVF. The women were given a risk factor questionnaire. The researchers gathered data from patient records the causes of infertility and details of fertility treatment. The population-based Netherlands Cancer Registry was used to determine the cancer incidence.

Dr. Burger said that while the IVF group had a significant three-fold increase in endometrial cancer compared to the general population, the women in the control group had a four-fold increase. "So in the IVF group, as well as the control, endometrial cancer is increased, but is it really IVF [that is the cause]?"

Results showed that 68 breast cancers were observed among the exposed cohort whereas 61.8 were expected during a median follow up period of 5.5 years (Standardized Incidence Ratio [SIR]=1.1; 95 percent confidence interval [CI] 0.9-1.4). In the unexposed cohort, the SIR for breast cancer was 1.0 (95 percent CI 0.7-1.4; based on 41 observed cases

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