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IVF and Breast Cancer: Setting the Record Straight

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Littonivf copy.jpgWhen entertainment reporter and reality TV star Giuliana Rancic made public her breast cancer diagnosis, rumors began to swirl about whether in vitro fertilization (IVF) might have been a contributing factor.

Rancic was in the midst of her third IVF treatment when her doctor ordered her to get the mammogram that revealed early-stage breast cancer.

"Right now there is no convincing evidence that IVF causes breast cancers," Jennifer Litton, M.D., tells ABC News.

Litton, an assistant professor in MD Anderson's Department of Breast Medical Oncology, sets the record straight about IVF and breast cancer.

Is there a link between IVF and breast cancer?

There's no convincing evidence that IVF causes breast cancers.

From countries that have centralized medicine that track medications and diagnoses, such as in Sweden and England, the registries do not show an increase in breast cancer.  

We must remember that these are not clinical trials.

What about all the hype in the news about Rancic's IVF treatments causing her breast cancer?

We cannot randomize people to get pregnant or not, so we have this data available to rely on. I believe that we need to continue to follow these registries for long-term outcomes over the next several decades.

We will continue to actively evaluate the issue of IVF and breast cancer at MD Anderson.
 
Is there anything women can do to prevent infertility while going through treatment for breast cancer?

For women with a diagnosis of breast cancer, my message is that before you undergo your treatments, discuss with your treating physician the risks of infertility and options for fertility preservation.

What options do breast cancer patients have if they want to have children?

A diagnosis of breast cancer does not mean you have to give up your dreams of parenthood. If you are not able to conceive on your own, there are several options potentially available to you.

These include reproductive technologies and other roads to parenthood such as adoption, (including embryo adoption), donor eggs and surrogacy.

Resources

Does Fertility Treatment Raise Breast Cancer Risk?
In vitro fertilization and breast cancer risk: a review.

1 Comment

Great article, you did a job well done

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