Cancer risk after evaluation for infertility

Louise A. Brinton, L. Joseph Melton, George D. Malkasian, Annell Bond, Robert Hoover

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

121 Scopus citations


To evaluate cancer risk by various causes of infertility, the authors conducted a retrospective cohort study among 2, 335 women evaluated for infertility at the Mayo Clinic between 1935 and 1964. Most cancers occurred at expected fre quencies, with the exception of cancers of the thyroid (standardized incidence ratio (SIR) = 2.6) and other endocrine glands (SIR = 6.7), although analyses were based on small numbers. Patients with progesterone deficIencies (31 per cent of the study subjects) had a 20 per cent higher cancer risk than did those with other causes of infertility, with excesses deriving primarily from cancers of the lung, cervix, ovary, and thyroid and from melanoma. Breast cancer risk, however, was not elevated in either patients with progesterone deficiencies (SIR = 0.9) or patients with other causes of infertility (SIR = 1.0). Examination of other pararn eters of infertility, including age at evaluation, type of infertity (primary vs. secondary), and years of attempted conception, showed no elevated risks of breast cancer in any subgroup. These results fail to support previous studies that have linked progesterone deficiencies among infertile women to elevated breast cancer risk. However, the data suggest a possible involvement of a progesterone deficiency In the etiology of other cancers, particularly thyroid cancer and mela noma.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)712-722
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican journal of epidemiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1989


  • Breast neoplasms
  • Infertility
  • Neoplasms
  • Risk

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology


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