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Is Female Infertility Associated With a Higher Risk of Cancer?

By: Hillary Ojeda
Posted: Monday, April 1, 2019

Compared with noninfertile women, infertile women have an increased risk of cancer, according to a study conducted by Michael L. Eisenberg, MD, of Stanford University, California, and colleagues and published in Human Reproduction. However, they suggest longer-term studies be performed to determine the risk of cancer after women give birth.

“Among infertile patients, we report a higher risk of ovarian and uterine cancers and a similar risk of breast cancer compared to non-infertile patients,” the scientists concluded.

A total of 64,345 infertile women—determined by diagnosis, testing, or treatment—and 3,128,345 noninfertile women receiving gynecologic treatment were compared. Patients with infertility were older on average. Follow-up varied from 3.8 ± 3.3 years in the infertile group and 3.9 ± 3.3 years in the noninfertile group. Development of malignancy and individual cancers was used as a primary outcome.

Women in the interfile group had a higher risk of cancer in general and specifically for cancers including uterine, ovarian, lung, thyroid, leukemia, liver, and gallbladder. The overall absolute risk of cancer, however, was low for both infertile and noninfertile groups (2.04% and 1.70%). Additionally, women from both groups who became pregnant and gave birth had a similar chance of developing uterine and ovarian cancers.

“While the absolute increase in cancer risk with infertility is small, this increase was seen within only 4 years of infertility diagnosis, strongly supporting the need for further study to determine what factors influence the long-term cancer risk for infertile women,” the investigators concluded.

Disclosure: The study authors reported no conflicts of interest.



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