In a study of more than 30,000 women, Dutch researchers believe that medically assisted reproduction treatments (in vitro fertilization, ovarian stimulation, etc.) do not increase the risk of ovarian cancer.

Faced with the increase in the use of medically assisted procreation treatments, or medically assisted procreation (MAP), the question of the consequences for health arises regularly. Because of the hormone levels generated by in vitro fertilization (IVF) or simple ovarian stimulation treatments, or because of repeated ovarian punctures, the scientific community is wondering about the long-term consequences on the ovary. Although several studies exist, they sometimes show conflicting results, so the question of the impact of ART or IVF on ovarian health is not yet fully resolved.

The question is all the more complex because, even if we found a correlation between an increased risk of ovarian cancer and use of ART, the next question is whether it is the treatments that induce this risk. or if it is the infertility itself that is involved, or even the underlying pathology (endometriosis, polycystic ovary syndrome, history of cancer, etc.).

In a new study, published November 17 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Dutch researchers analyzed the medical records of 30,625 women who received ovarian stimulation for ART between 1983 and 2001, and 9 998 infertile women who did not receive such treatment. At the same time, the possible occurrence of a cancerous ovarian tumor has been observed thanks to the national cancer registries of the Netherlands.

After a median follow-up of 24 years, the researchers identified 158 invasive cancers and 100 borderline ovarian tumors, a type of ovarian tumor. No increased risk of ovarian cancer was found in women who received ART treatment compared to infertile women who did not receive treatment. Even after more than 20 years, the risk of ovarian cancer has not increased.

In contrast, compared to women in the general population of the Netherlands, infertile women who had undergone ART had a higher risk of ovarian cancer, but this increased risk appeared to be related to the higher proportion of childless women, women for whom ART procedures have unfortunately failed. It has in fact been shown in several studies that the fact of not having a child would be a significant risk factor for ovarian cancer, the authors note in a press release.

“Women who have received ovarian stimulation as part of ART do not have an increased risk of malignant ovarian cancer, not even in the long term,” said Flora E. van Leeuwen, who led the 'study. “However, it is important to realize that even with the long follow-up of our study, the median age of women at the end of follow-up was only 56 years. As the incidence of ovarian cancer in the population increases at older ages, it is important to follow up even longer women treated with ART ”, she added. Further data from this study are therefore awaited.