Fertility News, assisted reproductive technology (ART), in vitro fertilization (IVF), tumor, ovarian cancer, study

When women cannot conceive naturally, they often seek out assisted reproductive doctors for help. One of the available fertility and conception treatments is in-vitro fertilization. According to new research, IVF treatment may be associated with ovarian tumor growth later in life. Researchers note doctors should inform patients of the increased risk, but they should not overplay the risks.

IVF treatment is one of the options to increase fertility and conception rate. According to researchers, women who undergo IVF treatment are four times more likely to develop ovarian tumors and two times more likely to develop malignant tumors. While these numbers seem huge, the overall rate of tumor growth is low thus the two and four-fold increases do not greatly impact overall tumor numbers. The research is preliminary and the occurrence of ovarian tumors needs to be studied further, thus the caution by researchers not to overplay risk factors.

Researchers used medical records from slightly more than 19,000 women undergoing IVF treatment in the Netherlands. The medical records of women receiving IVF treatment were compared to medical records of 6,000 women who did not receive IVF but sought out fertility help. When the two groups were compared for risk factors and ovarian tumor growth, doctors reported the following results:

  • Women who received IVF treatment were at higher risk of developing ovarian tumors during the follow-up timeframe of just less than 15 years.
  • Ovarian cancer risk increased, but not significantly. 
  • Ovarian tumor risk increased 4 times in the IVF group compared to the control group. 
  • Ovarian cancer risk increased 2 times in the IVF group compared to the control group.

At the root of the increased risk is ovarian stimulation. During IVF treatment, ovaries are stimulated to mature and release more eggs. This stimulation may cause an increased risk of malignancies, but further research is needed to prove any significant dangers to women undergoing IVF.

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