Fertility drugs and risk of ovarian cancer: dispelling the myth

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Abstract

Purpose of review

Worldwide 50–80 million people suffer from infertility. Assisted reproductive technology has provided a way of overcoming infertility and childlessness.

Purpose of review

The current article will focus on data linking infertility and its treatment to ovarian cancer.

Recent findings

Ovarian cancer risks associated with fertility drug treatment are encouraging, but not decisive. In view of the limited ability to evaluate drug effects on borderline tumors, given their rare occurrence, studies involving patient reports of prior drug exposures have noted an elevated risk of borderline tumors associated with fertility drugs. Nevertheless, the risk of invasive ovarian cancer appears to be restricted to those women who remain childless despite the infertility treatment.

Summary

As long as doubt persists, it might be advisable to reflect on a few clinical recommendations: identify high-risk infertile patients for ovarian cancer, investigate preexisting cancer before fertility treatment, inform patients regarding potential risks, obtain an informed consent, avoid exposure to long periods of ovulation induction cycles that are given before patients are referred for in-vitro fertilization and embryo transfer for women at greater risk and monitor women who have been treated with these drugs, especially those who failed to conceive, regularly and thoroughly.

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