Melanoma risk linked with IVF treatment and birth

by Sophie Hepburn
IVF treatment and melanoma
Melanin-producing cells are known to be hormonally-responsive and the link between reproductive hormones and melanoma has been studied since the 1970s. Credit: Jug Jones

An investigation into the association between IVF treatment and melanoma found women who had IVF treatment and gave birth to one or two children had an increased rate of invasive melanoma compared with those who did not have children.

The results, recently published in Melanoma Research, show that among the who had IVF treatment, giving was associated with a 3.6-fold increase in the rate of invasive melanoma.

However, giving birth made little or no contribution to the risk of invasive melanoma in women undergoing non-IVF infertility treatment.

In addition, they found no evidence for an association between IVF treatment and invasive melanoma among women who did not have children.

One possible explanation is that women undergoing IVF are more susceptible to invasive melanoma and this can be linked with the hormonal environment present in pregnancy, birth and lactation.

Research Assistant Louise Stewart from UWA's School of Population Health says the finding is associational. 

"This is an important new finding; however, it requires confirmation from other studies and should be interpreted with caution," Professor Stewart says.

"The study is an observational study, and as such, can only reveal an association between exposure [IVF plus birth] and outcome [melanoma].

"It does not tell us if this association is causal."

The study included women aged 20-44 years seeking investigation for infertility in Western Australia between 1982 and 2002, with further follow-up in 2010.

In total, 21,604 women were enrolled in the study.

During this time 7524 had IVF treatment, 14,870 gave birth, and 149 were diagnosed with invasive melanoma.

Melanin-producing cells are known to be hormonally-responsive and the link between reproductive hormones and melanoma has been studied since the 1970s.

The incidence rate of melanoma increases with age in men and women, but it slows down in women following menopause.

A review by Gandini et al in 2011 summarised the results of thirty-six observational studies and found significant associations of melanoma with and age at first pregnancy.

The results of this study show an association between reproductive factors and invasive melanoma in women undergoing IVF which, researchers say warrants future investigation.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Risk of second primary melanoma up in pediatric patients

Jun 28, 2012

(HealthDay) -- Pediatric patients diagnosed with an invasive cutaneous melanoma have nearly double the relative risk of developing a subsequent primary melanoma, compared with adults, according to a study ...

Recommended for you

Prolonged, heavy bleeding during menopause is common

Apr 15, 2014

Women going through menopause most likely think of it as the time for an end to predictable monthly periods. Researchers at the University of Michigan say it's normal, however, for the majority of them to experience an increase ...

Italy IVF patient pregnant with wrong embryos

Apr 13, 2014

A woman who underwent fertility treatment at a clinic in Rome became pregnant with the twins of another couple after their embryos were mixed up, press reports said Sunday.

Abuse not tied to pain severity in chronic pelvic pain

Apr 11, 2014

(HealthDay)—A history of adolescent or adult abuse is not associated with pain severity, but is linked to pain-related disability and depression in women with chronic pelvic pain (CPP), according to a study ...

User comments