Recently the American Society for Reproductive Medicine issued a new guideline assessing the impact of fertility drugs on the risk of cancer in women. This guideline was developed after a comprehensive literature search and grading the available data on this topic. The committee concluded that data in this area are limited by retrospective observational studies which have a variety of methodological problems including: small sample sizes, inadequate information about duration and dose of fertility treatment, and limited follow-up. Moreover, the data are confounded by the fact that some women with infertility are at increased risk of breast, ovarian and endometrial cancer. Nonetheless, there is no compelling data suggesting that fertility medications increase the risk of invasive cancers. While some studies have suggested that fertility medications may be associated with an increased risk of borderline ovarian tumors, there is insufficient consistent data to conclude that this is true. Overall, this guideline is reassuring for women undergoing fertility treatments. Nonetheless, additional well designed studies are needed to continue to evaluate the risks associated with fertility treatments.
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Author: Clarisa Gracia, MD, MSCE, University of Pennsylvania and Member of the ASRM Fertility Preservation Special Interest Group