The risk of ovarian cancer after treatment for infertility

Robert E. Bristow, Beth Y. Karlan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Recently, much attention in both the medical and lay communities has been focused on a possible association between fertility drug use and invasive ovarian cancer, and ovarian tumors of low malignant potential. A causal relationship, if shown to exist, has important implications. In the past year, several large case-control and cohort studies have attempted to address this issue. However, interpretation of the available data has been hampered by a number of factors. Retrospective study designs, small numbers of ovarian cancer cases, and inconsistent reporting of fertility drug use and type of infertility have all been common methodological shortcomings. The known ovarian cancer risk factors of low parity and infertility have been particularly difficult to separate from any effect of ovulation induction. The current epidemiologic data are insufficient to implicate conclusively specific fertility medications in ovarian carcinogenesis. The data do suggest that women with refractory infertility may constitute a high-risk population for developing ovarian cancer, independent of fertility drug use. Until the relationship between ovulation induction and ovarian cancer risk is defined more accurately, a high index of clinical suspicion for ovarian neoplasms is indicated before, during, and after treating women for infertility.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)32-37
Number of pages6
JournalCurrent Opinion in Obstetrics and Gynecology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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