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expert reaction to fertility problems in women and cancer risk in their children

 A study published in the International Journal of Cancer suggests that the children of women who experienced fertility problems may have an increased risk of cancer in childhood and young adulthood. 


Dr Allan Pacey, Senior Lecturer in Andrology, University of Sheffield, said:

 “This is an interesting study of impressive scale and approach. I am impressed that the authors have been able to link a country-wide database of fertility investigation with those for cancer in childhood and young adults. At first glance the data would seem to show that the incidence of cancer in children born to women with fertility problems is significantly elevated, although it should be noted that the absolute risk is very small (from the paper’s abstract: “about four additional cases of childhood cancer and about nine additional cases of cancer in young adults per 100,000 exposed offspring”). This is intriguing and raises more questions than answers. But it cannot be concluded from the paper that the risk was elevated because these women conceived their children following infertility treatments, because the authors did not have access to that data and some of the women were recruited in 1964 before modern infertility treatments such as IVF were invented! Indeed, UK data presented at the recent ESHRE meeting in London linking HFEA data with the UK childhood cancer registry showed that IVF did not elevate the risk of childhood cancer. Whilst it was disappointing that the media chose not to report that story, it is now an important counterpoint to the paper from Denmark published today.”


 ‘Increased risk for cancer among offspring of women with fertility problems’ by Marie Hargreave et al. was published in the International Journal of Cancer. 

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