Ask an expert
Question

07 Feb 2006

Cancer due to fertility treatment
I have the following questions:

We recently lost a friend due to breast cancer after repeated fertility treatment.

1. Do the doctors who do fertility treatment on women keep contact with them for some time?

2. If so, for how long is such contact maintained?

3. Would these doctors be aware of it if their fertility patients develop cancer later? (like breast cancer due to oestrogen sensitivity)

4. What statistics on cancers secondary to oestrogen treatment is available for:
a) South Africa
b) World wide

Thank you for your attention to this!
Answer 394 views
Expert
Fertility expert
fertility expert

01 Jan 0001

Dear Concerned

The incidence of gynaecological or breast cancers is carefully monitored and extensive retrospective analysis have been done to address the issue of cancer risks following fertility treatment. To date there is no evidence to suggest an increase of gynaecological or hormone dependent malignancies in patients who had fertility treatment.
The following conclusions have appearded in recent studies:

Women who have been exposed to fertility drugs with IVF seem to have a transient increase in the risk of having breast or uterine cancer diagnosed in the first year after treatment, though the incidence overall is no greater than expected. Unexplained infertility was associated with an increased risk of a diagnosis of ovarian or uterine cancer.

Recent studies show that there is no long-term health risk to fertility treatments. Early studies suggested that long ovulation induction treatment may increase the risk of ovarian cancer, but this has not been borne out in more recent, well-designed epidemiologic studies.
We know that infertility is associated with an increased risk of ovarian cancer. Is that due to treatment? We don't think so. It appears that infertility itself may be the culprit. First of all, when compared to women who have had children, those who have breastfed, or those who have used birth control pills, women who have had infertility have a higher risk of ovarian cancer. This is because birth control pills, pregnancy and breastfeeding provide protection against this cancer.

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical examination, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.