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A new study suggests that women who undergo fertility treatments are at a higher risk of developing certain kinds of ovarian cancer.
The IVF cancer risk was discovered by Dutch researchers who presented the results in the journal Human Reproduction recently. The 15-year study monitored 25,000 sub-fertile women who attended IVF clinics in the 80s and 90s. Some of the women received egg-stimulating drugs, while others did not.
The comparison between two groups of sub-fertile women is important because sub-fertile women already have an increased risk of ovarian cancer, according to Reuters. Scientists were thus able to control for that risk, leading to more accurate results.
As for specifics, the overall IVF cancer risk was shown to be about twice than that of the average woman. However, IVF patients were found to be three times more likely to develop borderline ovarian tumors, reports Reuters.
Borderline tumors are not malignant, but still contain abnormal cells. Those cells may eventually turn cancerous. They must thus be removed via surgery, which has its own set of complications.
Despite the study's results, researchers want to make clear that the IVF cancer risk is still incredibly low, notes the BBC. It ultimately should not be a major concern for women who choose to receive egg-stimulating fertility treatments.
Moreover, there are ways women can lessen both the regular and the IVF cancer risk. Women who maintain a healthy weight, become pregnant or take the pill, and are non-smokers are overall less likely to develop ovarian cancer.