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Fertil Steril. 1994 Sep;62(3):433-48.

Epidemiology, etiology, and fertility drugs in ovarian epithelial carcinoma: where are we today?

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Kaplan Hospital, Rehovot, Israel.



To review studies that have examined the epidemiology and etiology of the development of epithelial carcinoma of the ovary.


Important published studies related to the topic were identified through a computerized bibliography search.


A review of the literature reveals that the etiology of epithelial ovarian cancer is probably multifactorial and that genetic, environmental, hormonal, and viral factors appear to be directly or indirectly related to the development of the disease. An attempt to implicate specific agents has not produced conclusive results. However, based on large epidemiologic studies, it seems that there is a clear trend of decreasing risk with increasing number of pregnancies, deliveries, use of oral contraceptives, and the duration of breast feeding. An increased risk was found to be associated with ovarian dysfunction leading to infertility and exposure to asbestos and talc. The recent observation that infertile women who used fertility drugs might experience an increased risk for the development of epithelial ovarian cancer should be examined very carefully because of the small number of patients in the study, lack of appropriate information about the type of infertility, drugs used, dosage, and duration of treatment. Because there are no screening tests that are consistently accurate enough to detect ovarian cancer at an early stage, translating the current information into disease prevention requires careful clinical evaluation with a routine follow-up of patients at risk.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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