The findings provide reassurance that the incidence of breast and ovarian cancers in IVF patients is the same as that for women of the same age in the general population when considered over a five to ten year period.
The evidence of increased numbers of cancers above the predicted in small numbers of women in particular sub-groups needs further study. The occurrence of above expected numbers of breast cancer in the first year after treatment is consistent with other research showing a small increase in diagnoses of breast cancer shortly after women give birth.
The same effect has been seen in recent users of the oral contraceptive pill and hormone replacement therapy. Possible explanations for this finding after IVF treatment include earlier detection of abnormal breast changes due to close medical supervision, the biological effects of fertility drugs, or both.
Explanations for the relationship between unexplained infertility and the increase in ovarian and uterine cancer are harder to come by.
To explore such issues, the research team has started a more detailed investigation of about 700 IVF patients some of whom have cancer and others who do not.
Information for this information sheet has been obtained from the draft pamphlet put out by the research team titled
“Cancer incidence after infertility and IVF.
Findings from an Australian study.
A brief summary for consumers and health professionals.”