Scientific research

The Quality and Safety of IVF with PGD in Female BRCA Carriers

Female carriers of a mutation of the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene are at an increased risk of hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. Hereditary breast and ovarian cancer are among the most common indications for PGD in the Netherlands. The IVF procedure that is part of PGD requires properly functioning ovaries (ovarian reserve). Female carriers of a BRCA mutation often ask us whether the hormones administered as part of the IVF procedure will place them at greater risk of developing cancer.

This study, which is sponsored by the Dutch Cancer Society, was designed to address these two issues. We are examining the ovarian reserve of women who carry a BRCA mutation. For instance, we will compare their AMH levels (AMH is a hormone which reflects the presence of primordial follicles in the ovary) with those of women who do not carry a BRCA mutation. This study, the so-called BRAVA study, is being carried out in close co-operation with Utrecht UMC. In addition, we are investigating ovarian response to the ovarian stimulation that is carried out as part of the IVF procedure in carriers of the BRCA mutation who have undergone PGD.

The influence of IVF on the incidence of breast cancer is being investigated by comparing the incidence of breast cancer in female carriers of the BRCA mutation who are part of a large, nation-wide group of BRCA carriers (the Hebon cohort) and who have undergone IVF with the incidence of breast cancer in female carriers of the BRCA mutation who are part of the same cohort but have not undergone IVF. BRCA carriers who are receiving PGD undergo additional breast MRI testing during the course of the study.

Supervisors: prof. Christine de Die-Smulders, prof. Vivianne Tjan-Heijnen, Ron van Golde, PhD, Encarna Gómez García, PhD
Researcher: Inge Derks-Smeets