PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — There is a significant finding in the fight against ovarian cancer. A large-scale study finds women who use intrauterine devices (IUDs) for contraception have lower rates of ovarian cancer.
Ovarian cancer is often deadly, because there is no screening for it and symptoms are vague, so it is usually found when it’s more advanced.
One way to reduce the risk, according to the new study, is using IUDs for birth control.
For five years, Amy Dickson Plache has bravely battled ovarian cancer with chemotherapy, clinical trials, radiation and more.
“I won’t be cured, but I’ll just live with this as a chronic disease, much like, you know, someone who had diabetes or, you know, arthritis,” she says.
She has an inherited genetic mutation known to increase the risk of ovarian cancer. Tests show her daughter, Abby, has the same too.
“It was shocking and obviously scary, there’s so much unknown with cancer,” Abby Plache said.
“That was pretty hard for me to take,” Amy Dickson Plache added.
But, unbeknownst to the Plaches, Abby’s choice for birth control, an IUD, may actually reduce her risk.
“I think this data is incredibly compelling,” Dr. Lindsay Wheeler, of the University of Colorado’s School of Medicine, says.
The new research, which is the first-of-its-kind, analyzes 11 international studies, examining how IUD’s affect ovarian cancer rates.
“We found that the risk of ovarian cancer was decreased when a patient had a history of IUD use,” Dr. Wheeler says.
The risk reduction ranged from 15% to 32%.
The belief is that it may be tied to the hormones in some IUDs or the increase in immune cells, due to an IUD’s inflammatory effects could play a role.
“We know that immune cells are increasingly thought of as involved in cancer prevention,” Dr. Saketh Guntupalli says.
For the Plaches, this new research is a win.
“It’s just terrific,” Amy said. “I do genuinely feel like it’s a big step in the right direction,” her daughter added.
Doctors suggest talking with your OBGYN about what contraception is best for you.
Other research has shown that various kinds of birth control, including oral contraception, can reduce the risk for cancer. But this is the first to show that IUDs specifically lower the risk for ovarian cancer.
Doctors are calling this a very important study.