Breast cancer is the second most common cancer in women after skin cancer and the second most common cause of cancer death after lung cancer. Women under age 40 account for 6% of new breast cancer cases in the United States. Fertility preservation for women with breast cancer needs more discussion. Thankfully adjuvant chemotherapy can be life saving. However, infertility and early menopause resulting from adjuvant chemotherapy are serious concerns for young women who develop breast cancer.
A study from Italy (Del Mastro L, et al. JAMA. 2011;306:269-276) demonstrated that temporary suppression of ovarian function with a gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) analog, reduced the incidence of chemotherapy-induced early menopause in young women with breast cancer. In an accompanying editorial (Rugo HS, et al. JAMA. 2011;306:312-314), breast cancer specialists stated, “GnRH agonist therapy to suppress ovarian function during chemotherapy is an additional treatment that can potentially expand fertility possibilities.” They further stated, “Although recovering menses is not the same as fertility preservation, it is one step in the right direction.” The Fertility Centers of New England offers additional steps potentially allowing fertility preservation in appropriately selected women prior to initiating chemotherapy. This may include egg and/or embryo freezing.
If you have questions on how you can preserve your fertility, please contact us for a free initial consult.