Fertility treatment can double the long-term risk of invasive and low-grade ovarian cancers, a study has found.
Stimulating the ovaries of women undergoing in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) increased the chances of patients being diagnosed with ovarian cancer 15 years later.
Overall, ovarian cancer rates were doubled by the treatment which forces the ovaries to produce extra eggs.
The main impact was on non-fatal slow-growing tumours. The risk of developing this condition, known as “borderline ovarian cancer”, was raised four-fold.
Although not considered dangerous, borderline ovarian cancer still requires extensive surgery.
Scientists analysed data on more than 19,146 subfertile women who had received at least one ovarian stimulation treatment, and 6,006 subfertile women who did not undergo IVF.
Of 61 women who had ovarian malignancies in the IVF treatment group, 31 had borderline ovarian cancer and 30 had invasive ovarian cancer.
Study leader Professor Flora van Leeuwen, from the Netherlands Cancer Institute in Amsterdam, said: “Our data clearly show that ovarian stimulation for IVF is associated with an increased risk of borderline ovarian tumours and this risk remains elevated up to more than 15 years after the first cycle of treatment.”