The link between female infertility and cancer: Epidemiology and possible aetiologies

D. Meirow, J. G. Schenker

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Infertility has been suggested as a risk factor for various gynaecological cancers. Data analyses show that among infertile women, those with anovulation or polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) have an increased risk of cancer. Clinical and laboratory data such as anthropometric measurements, endogenous hormones and growth factors may explain mechanisms which link tumorogenesis or tumour promotion to infertility. The possible association between ovulation induction and cancer is discussed both on theoretical grounds and based on epidemiological data. We conclude that according to epidemiological studies, laboratory data and on theoretical grounds, infertile patients have an increased lifetime risk of gynaecological cancer. The risk of cancer should be evaluated further for each subpopulation of infertile patients. Thus, more adequate means of monitoring these patients will become available. These data are necessary for a further evaluation of the possible cancer risks of infertility treatments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-75
Number of pages13
JournalHuman Reproduction Update
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • Anovulation
  • Cancer
  • Infertility
  • Ovulation induction
  • Sex hormones


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