IVF Treatment and breast cancer

Hello all

I was wondering if anybody has had IVF treatment before being diagnosed with breast cancer and if so what type of breast cancer they have e.g.

ER+, PR+, or HER2+ or triple negative or a combination
What grade the cancer is? Mine is 3

I’ve been through IVF treatment and my breast cancer is HER2 positive which means it’s nothing to do with hormones. I know somebody else who has just been diagnosed with breast cancer and she also had IVF treatment. It has got me thinking now because I was aware that there is a small chance of breast cancer developing in people who’ve been through IVF but I would have thought it was of the hormonal type.

Any thoughts or views would be much appreciated.


Hi Ruby

I did not have IVF but IUI. I was treaded with clomid for 6 months prior to IUI and then needed clomid and HCG injections. My bc is grade 3 strongly positive to hormones but her2 negative.

Hope that helps.


Anne x

Hi -i suffer from endometriosis and couldnt have children so went on waiting list for ivf. Was put on zoladex and unknown to me, HRT, to counter the effects of zoladex on my bones. Two years later i started my IVF, and had four treatments (two of these re frozen eggs from first cycle). Was pumped full of hormones and unfortunately didnt get preggers. Last cycle was a nightmare-just didnt feel right and it was eventually (after a torturous rollercoaster of a ride) cancelled. My body never felt right and i was having a period every two weeks and my boobs always seemed swollen. I tried allsorts including reflexology ad acupuncture to balance my hormones. Approx 12 months later i was dx with breast cancer which had already spread to my liver and bones-(grade 4) i didnt have a lump till 4 weeks before i was diagnosed, and my tumour is hormone driven (oestrogen). When i have asked the question, it seems nobody wants to look at what the cause was in case you decide to sue (which i wouldnt-id just like them to take more care with people who are going through the process just in case!!) Also i lost my mum to ovarian cancer & it was in the family history-when i told the IVF clinic they noted it ion my file but told me not to worry, and i was never offered any extra screening.

Sorry to go on -but just wanted to share my story cos i have heard of a few people who have had ivf then had cancer diagnosed, and i think it should be investigated further.


Hi Anne and Debbie

Thanks for your feedback. I can see that both of you have hormone positive cancer and I completely agree that more research needs to be done to investigate a link between breast cancer and IVF. As I said above my breast cancer is not hormonal so I don’t seem to fit into that category however I know somebody else who has been recently diagnosed and she’s been through IVF a few years ago and now has breast cancer as well. We are both young - in ours 30s so is this just a coincidence or has the IVF triggered it off? I don’t know how old you two are but not old if you are having IVF and planning for children.

Debbie you have really had a rough ride and I’m so sorry to hear what you’ve only been through. I did have it in the back of my mind that IVF can trigger breast cancer when I went through it but guess what - the lump in my breast didn’t particularly ring any bells until one sprung up in my armpit - that was when alarm bells rang and by that stage the lump was 4cm.

I wonder if there is anybody else out there who has been through any kind of fertility treatment only to be diagnosed with breast cancer soon after?


Hi Ruby

I am now 40 (just)- i do accept what has happened with good grace and am thankful for my wonderful husband and family, i think a positive outlook is what has always got me through but i would hate this to happen to someone else if there is a link. I was asked to take part in a study and i did raise this as an issue in my comments that i felt IVF wasnt covered in their questionnaire, and i think it should be -never had any response tho

I have to say breast cancer was not my real concern at the time i undertook ivf - it was ovarian cancer and i never had any warning to watch out for breast cancer -but as i didnt get any reconisable symptoms till it was too late, i don’t think it would have made any difference unless they had offered screening as part of the treatment (but that would cost them more wouldnt it!)


Hi all,

I haven’t had ivf but have had two children very close together so hormones flying around all over the place, what i find really interesting and no one seems to comment on it much is the amount of us that get BC very soon after having a baby or whilst pregnant, could it be similar to IVf and even if the cancer is not hormone related , mine isn’t that there is a link to pregnancy and the hormones it produces. Sorry I’m waffling, I know what i mean!!! I think!!


Hi Ruby

I was dx with BC in Oct 07. Grade 3, not hormonal at all, had IVF in Dec 07 to preserve fertility before chemo. Onc wasn’t worried about it as the cancer wasn’t responsive to the hormones.

Obviously this is all fairly recent, so can’t say about long term effects, (none hopefully)

hope this helps.

Ang xx

Hello Debbie, Ang and ZJLove

ZJLove I agree with what you say about people being diagnosed soon after having children. I know of a few people this has happened to.

Ang mine isn’t hormonal either it’s HER2+. Is yours HER2+ or are you triple negative if you don’t mind me asking? I would have gone through IVF again in order to go through egg collection but there wasn’t time. My oncologist was not happy to wait to start treatment and neither was I so now I have no idea whether I’m fertile or not and only time will tell. This is really hard as I always wanted children and now I may never have the opportunity.

Maybe it’s to do with the hormones flying around. I went through 3 lots of IVF over a period of about 2 1/2 years and bang I now have breast cancer but like I said mine isn’t hormonal. Interesting thinking though.



I was diagnosed with BC last August which was both ER/PR +. I had my last attempt at IVF in the December of 2006, having had 3 attempts in total - unfortunately unsucessfully.

I did ask my consultant if he felt that the hormone drugs could have been a contributary factor in my diagnosis abut he was unable to give a definitive answer - which is understandable, but I do wonder if pumping my body full of hormones could have triggered an existing problem. I also feel that the Fertility specialists need to be more open about all the side effects associated with treatment. Apart from my BC diagnosis the fertilty drugs turned me into a raving lunatic - My husband said I was like a different person - And not a very nice one!

I hope that things work out for you Ruby - and maybe you could think about adopting children? I have two wonderful step-children - In fact they have both been such a fantastic support during my diagnosis and treatment that we have grown closer than before. There are many ways to experience having children so don’t give up on your dream.

Sandie xx

Hi Sandie

I am really sorry to hear that your IVF attempts were unsuccessful. I know other people have told me that when going through IVF they were a nightmare to live with - after all you’ve got masses of hormones flying round your body and more than is normal. People often seem to question whether something triggered their cancer off and as you say nobody can say if IVF is the trigger or exacerbates an already existing problem.

I’m so pleased to hear you’ve got such wonderful step-children and that they’ve been such a fantastic support to you - that is so lovely to hear. I hope that somehow I will get the experience of having children and your advice is wonderful and I will not give up.


Hi Ruby

Good! I’ll be too old (poor old thing!!) when I finish all my treatment so I’ve moved on from the idea of having my own children and just decided to borrow other peoples, but if you are still in your thirties then would you try IVF again after your treatment had finished? How did you cope with it first time around?

Where are you in your Bc trreatment ? I’m half way through my Rads - which are a lot easier to cope with than Chemo.

Sandie x

Hi Sandie

My doctors have told me that I definitely should not try for children for at least 2 years to make sure I’m in the clear first. The IVF treatment I went through was not for me it was for somebody else who didn’t have their own eggs and there is a beautiful little boy as a result of it and he’s so amazing so that kindda helps me a little. The IVF itself was fine but the disappointment of it not working a 2nd and 3rd time was huge but more so for the person I was doing it for.

I’m just starting radiotherapy today (this afternoon) so with you on that one. Just got back from hospital and was meant to have herceptin this morning but due to consistently low white blood count it’s been postponed until next week and an appointment is being made for me to see a haematologist. I also went for my prosthesis fitting today and they didn’t have my size so going back in 2 weeks to get it.

Anyway so my life for the next 3 weeks is hospital everyday but it’s worth it and it’s only for a short time and plus my friends and family are doing a rota to get me there and back.

How is your treatment going?

Ruby xxx

Hi Ruby

How fantastic of you to donate your eggs! And you know that they work.

I am half way through the radiotherapy and its not too bad - a pain having to go every day and is beginning to make me a bit tired. We are going up to London this weekend to see the Terracota Army at The British Museum so am conseving my energy for that - so thats why I’m lying on the soaf stuffing chocolates and watching telly…

My hospital is literally 10 mintutes away so I am able to toddle off by myself.

Its when all my treatment is finished that I’m concerned about - a bit like having your comfort blanket taken away!

Hope the first session went well

Sandie xx

Hi Sandie

Funny about the chocolate that’s exactly what I’m doing! I’m a complete chocoholic. A few of my friends have been to The British Museum to see the Terracota Army - how exciting for you and something to look forward to.

Lucky you are so close to the hospital. Mine is about a 40 min trip there (depending upon traffic and whether it’s in rush hour).

I so know what you mean about treatment being finished. I’ve still got herceptin until September so not let off the hook so quickly.

First session was fine and today’s session went well too. The staff are very kind.
How many more sessions do you have?

Ruby xxx

Hi Ruby

Terracotta Army was amazing - incredible how one person could be such an egomaniac! To start planning your own death aged 19 and 30 years before the event is pretty impressive.

I only have 4 more days to go. I didn’t have to have Radiotherapy but am part of a trial - I felt that it was an extra insurance policy and you know know how it is - I would willingly stand on my head for 6 weeks if someone told me it would help. I have been using Aloe Vera gel and my skin is fine - just a bit red.

I have started Tamoxifen as well - the hot flushes have started - Yippee

Sandie xx

Hi Sandie

Pleased to hear you enjoyed the exhibition. Good luck with final 4 days of rads and how interesting that you didn’t have to have it. I would take everything thrown at me and my oncologist told me that my treatment i.e. rads was the belts and braces (insurance policy) after the chemo and mastectomy. I’ve got 2 and a bit more weeks of it and then still on herceptin for a year.

I completely understand about the hot flushes as my periods stopped during treatment and I was also given Zoladex injections to switch off my ovaries temporarily and the hot flushes were horrible. I still sleep with the top bedroom window wide open otherwise i get too hot at night so what on earth I’m going to do in the summer I have no idea!

Ruby xxx

I know this is an old thread but it is a question I wanted to ask too, I am ER+ PR+ HER2+ and have a 5 year old as a result of donor eggs following several failed IVFs and I have recently met some one the same age (48) who has exactly the same as me and who also had several IVFs…

the doc said my main risk factor was having a first pregnancy at the ripe age of 41 and was adamant that IVF isn’t a risk…  Maybe the need for IVF is the risk factor, not the IVF itself. either way, i wouldn’t have not done it.

Anyway, any other post IVFers out there?


Hi ladies. Did anyone ever find out any more about this. I haven’t been diagnosed but due a mamogram on Monday due to a lump I found whilst pregnant after ivf. I over stimulated to the ivf drugs and got ohss. Just read that high levels of oestrogen can trigger bc. Mind is in over drive!

Hi all,


I was diagnosed with Stage 1a, Grade 3, ER+/PR+, HER2- breast cancer a week before my embryo implantation.  I had gone through two IVF cycles.  I was 41 when I was diagnosed, no family history, ate healthy, regularly exercised and otherwise was in perfect health.  I’m convinced the fertility treatments I underwent caused my breast cancer.  Infertility doctors will tell you that fertility treatments don’t cause breast cancer, but if you have breast cancer, they can cause your breast cancer to grow.  Oncologists, though, aren’t so sure.  I’ve had a few tell me fertily treatments caused my cancer by waking up dormant breast cancer cells that otherwise never would have been woken up and caused any harm.  In other words, I disturbed the neighborhood by taking fertility drugs.  Other oncologists have told me that the studies re: breast cancer and IVF are contradictory - meaning they just don’t know.  Recent studies have shown that fertility treatments are linked to higher breast density years down the line.  Higher breast density is a risk factor for breast cancer. My logic is this: Hormone replacement therapy and birth control pills have been linked to increased breast cancer risk, so why not fertility treatments?  All three expose you to higher levels of estrogen and progesterone than your body is used to.  Infertility doctors are sales people.  They aren’t going to be completely upfront with you re: risks.  My advice is to tread cautiously when considering fertility treatments.  

Hi there - I have been diagnosed grade 3 2cm invasive awaiting hormonal status - I had 3 rounds of ivf (1 full, 2 frozen) and 1 donor Cycle, where I had to take estrogen tabs daily for about 3 months till I miscarried. Now waiting and worrying what type i have. Sounds crazy to be hoping mines hormone driven x