Ladies treated with fertility drugs don’t have expanded breast cancer risk, study shows

Ladies treated with fertility drugs don’t have expanded breast cancer risk, study shows


  • Post By :

  • Source: King's College London

  • Date: 21 Jun,2021

Drugs frequently used during fertility treatments to release eggs don’t increase the chance of developing breast cancer, new research has shown.

Researchers from King’s College London, in partnership with King’s Fertility, analyzed studies between 1.8 million women undergoing fertility treatments. These women were followed up in studies for a normal period of 27 years and had no increase in the risk of developing breast cancer.

The study, published today in Fertility and Sterility journal, is the largest study to date assessing whether popular fertility drugs are for a cancer risk for women.

Fertility treatments can vary from using medications to boost the release of an egg at a women’s natural cycle into more intricate treatment like IVF which involves stimulating a patient’s menstrual cycle, extracting eggs from their ovaries, fertilising them with sperm in a lab, then moving the embryo to the womb to develop.

Fertility drugs to stimulate ovaries to release eggs have been used in the treatment of infertility since the early 1960s. Drugs that are utilized to stimulate the ovaries increase oestrogen hormone production and may act on breast cells. There was concern that this could turn the cells cancerous, and this has resulted in an uncertainty about the potential risk of infertility medication causing breast cancer.

Women of reproductive ages were included in this study and followed for a mean of 27 years following their fertility treatment. ‘Researchers found no substantial increase in risk to women exposed to therapy versus untreated women, and untreated women who were infertile.

Dr Sesh Sunkara, senior-author of this paper, from King’s College London and King’s Fertility said”Our study showed that the use of drugs to stimulate ovaries in fertility treatment did not put women at higher risk of breast cancer.

Katy Lindemann, a patient advocate with lived experience of fertility treatment said:”So much of the fear, stress and anxiety associated with fertility treatment is rooted in navigating uncertainty. This study not only gives patients peace of mind at an emotional level, but also enables us to make more informed decisions about treatment risks and benefits in a rational level.”

Dr Kotryna Temcinaite, Senior Research Communications Manager at Breast Cancer Today, said:”Each year approximately 55,000 UK girls get the terrible news that they have breast cancer. We urgently need to find out more about what factors contribute to someone’s risk of developing the disease and stop girls dying from breast cancer.

“Previously it was unclear whether fertility medications affect breast cancer risk, and we do receive calls to our Helpline from women who are concerned that their breast cancer was caused by fertility treatment. Although this analysis of existing published studies does provide welcome reassurance that fertility treatment is not likely to raise breast cancer risk, further long-term and comprehensive studies are now needed to confirm these findings.

“Anyone looking for breast cancer information and support can speak to our specialist nurses by phoning our free Helpline on 0808 800 6000.”


About Author