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Use of fertility drugs and risk of ovarian cancer

Diergaarde, Brendaa; Kurta, Michelle L.b

Current Opinion in Obstetrics and Gynecology: June 2014 - Volume 26 - Issue 3 - p 125–129
doi: 10.1097/GCO.0000000000000060
FERTILITY: Edited by Aydin Arici

Purpose of review The purpose of this review is to highlight recent research and insights into the relationship between fertility drug use and ovarian cancer risk.

Recent findings Results from two large case–control studies provided further evidence that fertility drug use does not significantly contribute to risk of ovarian cancer among the majority of women when adjusting for known confounding factors. However, questions regarding the effect on certain subgroups, including long-term fertility drug users, women who remain nulligravid after fertility treatment, women with BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations and borderline ovarian tumours, still remain. In addition, it may currently just be too early to determine whether there is an association between fertility drug use and ovarian cancer risk given that many of the exposed women are only now beginning to reach the ovarian cancer age range.

Summary Whether use of fertility drugs increases the risk of ovarian cancer is an important question that requires further investigation, in particular given the large number of women utilizing fertility treatments. Fortunately, results from recent studies have been mainly reassuring. Large well designed studies with sufficient follow-up time are needed to further evaluate the effects of fertility treatments within subgroups defined by patient and tumour characteristics.

aDepartment of Epidemiology, Graduate School of Public Health, University of Pittsburgh, and University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

bThe Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center, Columbus, Ohio, USA

Correspondence to Brenda Diergaarde, UPCI Research Pavilion, Suite 1.16, 5117 Centre Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA. Tel: +1 412 623 5891; e-mail:

© 2014 Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins