If you’ve been trying for a baby for some time now, and have been unsuccessful
, you might find yourself asking the question . . . “How far am I willing to go to conceive a child?” Would you risk the chance of developing cancer? Recent research has indicated that may very well be a risk you would be taking if you turn to fertility treatments.
A large study has concluded that women who are given certain drugs during fertility treatments were twice as likely
to develop ovarian malignancies
, compared to women who did not undergo treatments. Details of the Study
The study, which spanned 15 years and was led by Flora van Leeuwen of the Netherlands Cancer Institute in Amsterdam, found that fertility drugs meant to stimulate ovaries to produce extra eggs increase the patient's risk of developing borderline ovarian tumors and malignant growths. The women who underwent in-vitro fertilization, also known as IVF, could develop either cancer or borderline tumors, which are growths that have the potential to become cancerous but usually do not.
The study was significant because it was the first of its kind to include a control group made up of sub-fertile women who did not undergo any in-vitro fertilization. Over 25,000 women were observed, of which 19,000 received IVF. From this large group of women, 61 malignant growths were found in the IVF, and of these 61 women, 31 cases were borderline tumors and the rest were invasive cancers. This proportion is unusually high as compared to sub-fertile women who did not receive IVF. In Vitro FertilizationIn vitro fertilization
was developed by physiologist Robert G. Edwards, and produced the first successful "test tube baby," Louise Brown, in 1978. The term in vitro, which means in glass, was derived from Latin. The treatment is a process that involves fertilizing a woman's egg cells with sperm outside of the body. Once the egg becomes fertilized, it is then transferred to the patient's uterus, where it should attach itself and begin the pregnancy.
It is a major treatment that is widely available to many women, and it has succeeded where other methods of assisted reproductive techniques have failed. Many first-time IVF patients are filled with questions, and among the most common are questions relating to the risks involved. Until now, no concrete risks had been associated with IVF. Worth the Risk?
While further research is required, fertility experts all agree that this recent study shows an unusually high proportion of borderline tumors. Many health experts, like Peter Braude of Kings College London, argue that the study might raise unnecessary concerns among women undergoing IVF. He points out that, if kept proportional to the rest of the sub-fertile women, only around five to seven in one thousand women would develop a malignant growth or ovarian tumor.
Regardless, you may want to think twice before saying you’ll “do anything” to have a child of your own . . .