Is Giuliana’s Breast Cancer Linked to IVF?

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A third attempt at in-vitro fertilization may have saved Guiliana Rancic’s life—but did it also cause the problem?

The Scoop

Giuliana Rancic has been very public about her attempts to have a baby via in-vitro fertilization. But an announcement by the E! host and star of the reality show, Giuliana and Bill, isn’t the news her fans have been hoping for.

“Through my attempt to get pregnant with IVF for the third time, it was discovered that I have early stage breast cancer,” Giuliana reveals in an interview with Ann Curry.

Giuliana says that her breast cancer was discovered through a mammogram her fertility specialist insisted upon before he would start a third cycle of IVF. “He said, ‘I don’t care if you’re 26 or 36, but I will not get you pregnant if possibly there’s a small risk that you have cancer because the hormones will accelerate the cancer,'” she recounts. None of Giuliana’s other fertility specialists had previously recommended a mammogram.

The cancer is in the earliest stages and Giuliana says she will undergo surgery and then receive six weeks of radiation treatment. And then? Giuliana already has plans to try again for a baby once her doctor gives her the all clear.

“I am not going to give up. I want that baby,” she says.

Your Health

Some women may be wondering whether Giuliana’s breast cancer is somehow linked to IVF. Not to worry, say experts. According to research, women who undergo IVF may actually decrease their overall risk for breast cancer.

“The largest study in Sweden—of 25,000 women who had IVF compared to 1.4 million without—showed a 25 percent reduction in breast cancer and a 40 percent reduction in cervical cancer in those who had IVF,” Adrian V. Lee, a professor of pharmacology and chemical biology and director of the Women’s Cancer Research Center at the University of Pittsburgh’s Magee-Womens Research Institute, tells the Today Show.

But at least one fertility specialist is concerned that Giuliana’s news is scary for women to hear, no matter what research shows. “This is going to cause a lot of people to be afraid,” says Dr. Mark Perloe, medical director at Georgia Reproductive Specialists. “My advice to anyone who has concerns is to speak to their doctor and learn to do breast self-exams—and to check to see if anyone in their family had cancer before the age of 40.”

What does Giuliana think? “I always knew there was some master plan in why these attempts at IVF didn’t work out for me. But now I know … [deciding to try IVF for a third time] saved my life.”

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