Use of fertility medications and cancer risk: a review and update.

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Abstract

PURPOSE OF REVIEW

There is increasing use of fertility medications for ovulation induction and ovarian stimulation for in-vitro fertilization in the treatment of female infertility. In this review, recent literature regarding the association between fertility medication and cancer risk is reviewed.

RECENT FINDINGS

Several important publications have recently addressed the relationship between use of fertility medications and cancer risk. There are methodological limitations to many of these studies, including unique challenges in studying rare cancers that often develop several years after the time of fertility medication exposure. Although infertility per se is a risk factor for some female cancers, including breast, endometrial and ovarian cancer, most studies do not show a significant risk of these cancers with the use of fertility medications. Some studies, however, have shown a possible increased relative risk of borderline ovarian cancer, although the increased absolute risk is small without a clear causal relationship.

SUMMARY

The collective data regarding the risk of developing cancer from use of fertility medications are reassuring, although several methodological issues in these studies limit definitive conclusions.

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