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Clinical use of fertility agents and risk of breast cancer: a recent update for an old problem

Tomao, Federicaa , *; Lo Russo, Giuseppeb , *; Spinelli, Gian Paolob; Tomao, Silveriob

Current Opinion in Obstetrics and Gynecology: June 2014 - Volume 26 - Issue 3 - p 130–137
doi: 10.1097/GCO.0000000000000067
FERTILITY: Edited by Aydin Arici

Purpose of review Female infertility is today a very common, expanding problem and therefore restoring fertility strategies are increasing in the last few years. An association between ovarian stimulation and breast cancer risk has been hypothesized, but the question has not yet been clarified.

Recent findings In the last 2 years, many important studies have been published on this topic. A lot of new combinations of drugs are in experimentation and other recent drugs are already in current use, such as aromatase inhibitors. Furthermore, the data from older studies were investigated by two recent meta-analyses.

Summary Infertility affects many couples in western countries and the use of fertility stimulation techniques is widespread in the last few years, determining personal anxiety, social costs, and organizing difficulties. It is well known that one of the most important causative agents for the development of breast cancer is the proliferative activity of endogenous and exogenous female hormones. Therefore, it seems appropriate to investigate the risk of breast cancer derived from the use of hormonal therapies in infertile women. The final clarification of this question is very important so that all women can realize their dream of having children, with the certainty of not being exposed to an increased risk of breast cancer.

aDepartment of Gynaecology and Obstetrics, University of Rome ‘Sapienza’, Rome

bDepartment of Medico-Surgical Sciences and Biotechnologies, University of Rome ‘Sapienza’, Latina, Italy

*Federica Tomao and Giuseppe Lo Russo contributed equally to this work.

Correspondence to Federica Tomao, MD, Department of Gynaecology and Obstetrics, University of Rome ‘Sapienza’, Viale Regina Elena 324, 00161, Rome, Italy. Tel: +39 649973028; fax: +39 697251338; e-mail:

© 2014 Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins