June 4, 2010

Fertility Drugs and Ovarian Cancer

Over the years, controversy has existed whether fertility drugs can predispose to ovarian cancer. Several small poorly designed studies published in the 1990s raised the concern that drugs used to stimulate the ovaries and induce ovulation increased the risk of later developing ovarian cancer. Most recent studies have tended to suggest otherwise and the largest study to date was published (BMJ 2009;338:b249) by a Danish group from hospital and private fertility clinics involving 54,362 women with infertility treated between 1963 and 1998. Analysis showed no increased risk of ovarian cancer related to any fertility drug including use of clomiphene citrate (Clomid, Serophene), gonadotropins (FSH,hMG), human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), and gonadotripin releasing hormone (GnRH). There was also no increased risk of developing ovarian cancer even in women who had undergone 10 or more treatment cycles with these drugs or in women who never became pregnant despite their use. These finding should reassure women who have been treated for infertility that ovulation induction drugs do not increase their risk for ovarian cancer.

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Joseph A. Hill, III, M.D.

Joseph A. Hill, III, M.D. Board-Certified in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility