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Int J Epidemiol. 2004 Jun;33(3):596-602. Epub 2004 May 26.

Tubal sterilization and risk of ovarian, endometrial and cervical cancer. A Danish population-based follow-up study of more than 65 000 sterilized women.

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  • 1Danish Cancer Society, Institute of Cancer Epidemiology, Copenhagen, Denmark. susanne@cancer.dk



On the basis of a population-based cohort, we assessed the cancer risk, focusing on gynaecological cancers and pre-malignant lesions, among women with a previous tubal sterilization.


Using the Danish Hospital Discharge Register we identified 65 232 women who had a tubal sterilization (1977-1993). The cohort was followed for cancer occurrence, and compared with the expected number based on the national cancer incidence rates.


The overall risk of ovarian cancer was decreased (standardized incidence ratio [SIR] = 0.82; 95% CI: 0.6, 1.0), and it was still decreased > or =10 years after the sterilization (SIR = 0.65; 95% CI: 0.4, 1.0). The rate of endometrial cancer was also decreased (SIR = 0.66; 95% CI: 0.5, 1.0), the risk continued being moderately reduced during follow-up, although it was not statistically significant.


In this nationwide, population-based study we find that women with tubal sterilization have a decreased risk of subsequent development of ovarian cancer. As the protective effect is not decreasing with years of follow-up, our data do not support that 'screening' bias can explain the protective effect, but indicate that the sterilization itself may convey a reduction in risk. The same pattern is found for endometrial cancer, the association being less strong.

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