PDF icon Maintaining Fertility in Young Women with Breast Cancer


OPINION STATEMENT: Breast cancer effects nearly 200,000 American women each year, with 9% of these women still in their childbearing years. For this subset of future survivors, the issue of fertility may be a significant quality-of-life concern. Both the causes and treatments for infertility in young breast cancer patients must be thoroughly understood by the multidisciplinary team caring for these women in order for the caregivers to be effective advocates for their patients. Radiation, cytotoxic chemotherapy, and hormonal therapy all effect ovarian function to greater or lesser degrees, with the incidence of permanent post-treatment amenorrhea following systemic treatment for breast cancer in women age 50 or younger estimated as between 33% and 76%. The science of fertility preservation continues to experience significant advances in terms of the success of oocyte, embryo, and ovarian tissue preservation, and it is crucial that physicians and patients are aware of the available fertility preservation options. The optimal time to address the possibility of treatment-related infertility and strategies to combat this with younger patients is prior to treatment, rather than after cancer therapy has begun, and a full knowledge of the available technologies is a prerequisite for an informed discussion. Causes of ovarian suppression and options for treatment, including consideration of preimplantation genetic diagnosis and alternative parenting approaches are also discussed to assist the clinician caring for young patients with cancer.

Hulvat MC, Jeruss JS. Curr Treat Options Oncol. 2009 Dec;10(5-6):308-17. Review.