Women do not have an increased long-term risk of ovarian cancer after IVF

The big question is, is that idea correct? Are women who received large amounts of hormones during their IVF program indeed more likely to develop ovarian cancer than otherwise?

The answer: no, women who have undergone IVF treatment in the past do not have an increased risk of ovarian cancer than women who have undergone other fertility treatments. Not even if they have undergone multiple IVF treatments.

Risk factor

“Even after three or more IVF treatments and in the long term (twenty years), the risk of ovarian cancer was not increased,” says Spaan. Spaan did find that women who underwent IVF treatment were found to have a twice as high risk of ovarian cancer than women from the general Dutch population.

Confusing? Absolutely. But it can be explained if you consider that, according to the epidemiologist, this is due to the fact that women who underwent IVF more often did not have children. And childlessness is a known risk factor for ovarian cancer, she says.

Borderline tumor

In addition to ovarian cancer, the epidemiologist also looked at the risk of borderline tumors – tumors that are a borderline between benign and malignant – of the ovary. This tumor form is not a precursor to malignant cancer, therefore the prognosis is good. Extensive surgery is required and this tumor can cause significant complaints.

Borderline ovarian tumors are rare in the general Dutch population and often have a good prognosis. In the Netherlands, the risk for women of getting a borderline ovarian tumor before the age of 55 is about 0.2 percent.

Increased risk

Women who received IVF treatment at the time had an almost twice as high risk of a borderline ovarian tumor.

This increased risk was visible in comparison with women undergoing fertility treatments other than IVF, and also in comparison with women from the general Dutch population. It was striking that the risk of borderline ovarian tumors did not increase with the extent to which a woman received IVF treatment.


Since the rate of borderline ovarian tumors is higher in women undergoing IVF treatment, it can be argued that this is related to IVF. Still, the researchers expected a higher risk of borderline tumors as the use increased.

It is therefore as yet uncertain whether the increased risk is actually due to the IVF treatment. Other factors, such as the severity of infertility, can also play a role.

A follow-up investigation is needed. The average age of the women who took part in the study is 56 years on average. Because ovarian tumors occur more often after the age of 60, it is important to follow the women longer.

Only then can it be said with more certainty whether IVF actually increases the risk of borderline tumors of the ovary. In fact, it is only possible to make statements about the risk of ovarian tumors in women over sixty.

Also read
Martines (39) IVF treatment has been postponed: ‘The longer it takes, the smaller the chance’

Carolien was no longer in the mood for sex because of her ovarian cancer. A divorce ensued, but that did not mean the end of their relationship. You can see exactly how that works in the LINDA.orginal Kancermonologen.

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