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Hum Reprod. 2011 Jan;26(1):253-8. doi: 10.1093/humrep/deq307. Epub 2010 Nov 18.

Malignancies among women who gave birth after in vitro fertilization.

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Tornblad Institute, University of Lund, Lund, Sweden.



Relatively few studies published to date have investigated IVF and cancer risk. In this study we compared the occurrence of cancer in women who gave birth after IVF with all other women who gave birth in the study period.


All women who were treated with IVF and gave birth during the years 1982-2006 in Sweden were identified from all IVF clinics, and the occurrence of cancer in these women was identified by linkage with the nationwide Swedish cancer register. Comparison was made with Mantel-Haenszel odds ratios (ORs), adjusting for year of delivery and maternal age, parity and smoking. Cancer before IVF was only studied in first parity women. Specific cancer forms were also studied.


Among 24058 women who had been treated with IVF, 1279 appeared in the cancer register. The total number of women studied in the population was 1 394 061, and 95 775 of these were registered in the cancer register. The risk for cancer before IVF was increased [OR 1.37, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.27-1.48] and was especially high for ovarian cancer (3.93). The risk for cancer after IVF was significantly lower (OR 0.74, 95% CI 0.67-0.82), mainly due to a lower than expected risk for breast and cervical cancer. The risk for ovarian cancer was increased but lower than the risk before IVF (2.13).


Cancer or cancer treatment may increase the risk for infertility leading to IVF. After IVF, in most cases with treatment with fertility hormones, a significantly low cancer risk was found. Ovarian cancer showed an increased risk, although lower than before IVF. One possible reason is ovarian pathology causing both infertility and an increased cancer risk.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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