Does Assisted Reproductive Technology Increase Risk of Ovarian Cancer and Borderline Tumors?

Since the introduction of assisted reproductive technology (ART), such as in vitro fertilization (IVF), there have been concerns that ART may increase the risk of ovarian tumors. However, the long-term effects of assisted reproductive technology (ART) on ovarian tumor risk are unknown.

On 17 November 2020, a new paper “Long-Term Risk of Ovarian Cancer and Borderline Tumors After Assisted Reproductive Technology” in JNCI: Journal of the National Cancer Institute, published by Oxford University Press, shows that receiving assisted reproductive technology does not increase the risk women have for developing ovarian cancer.

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In this paper, this study aimed to determine the long-term ovarian cancer risk in the large national cohort of women who received ART between 1983 and 2000, compared with the general Dutch population and subfertile women who did not receive ART. Incident invasive and borderline ovarian tumors were ascertained through linkage with the Dutch Pathology Registry and the Netherlands Cancer Registry until July 2018.  Ovarian tumor risk in ART-treated women was compared with risks in the general population and the subfertile non-ART group.  

The results suggest that ART-treated women do not have an increased risk of ovarian cancer compared with subfertile women not treated with ART after a median follow-up of 24 years. The higher risk of ovarian cancer is likely due to the higher prevalence of nulliparity in ART-treated women, compared with the general population.

However, ART-treated women had a statistically significantly 1.8-fold higher risk of borderline ovarian tumors than non-ART women. Although lack of a dose-response relationship with ART-treatment cycles does not support a causal association, more research is warranted to examine the role of ART in the etiology of borderline ovarian tumors.


Long-Term Risk of Ovarian Cancer and Borderline Tumors After Assisted Reproductive Technology


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