Chemo May Limit Fertility in Breast Cancer Survivors

They're more likely to have diminished ovarian reserve producing viable eggs, study suggests

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SATURDAY, May 31, 2008 (HealthDay News) -- Chemotherapy may reduce fertility in breast cancer survivors, according to a study led by researchers at Boston's Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

They found that premenopausal breast cancer survivors treated with chemotherapy following surgery were more likely than women who'd never had breast cancer to have diminished ovarian reserve -- the capacity of the ovaries to produce eggs capable of being fertilized.

The study included 20 breast cancer survivors who were one or more years out from their diagnosis and had no evidence of cancer recurrence. They were compared to 20 age-matched women who'd never had breast cancer.

All the women underwent five tests conducted two, three or four days after a menstrual cycle. The tests assessed the ovaries' physical condition, hormone levels and a compound involved in the menstrual cycle.

In four of the five tests, ovarian reserve was worse in the breast cancer survivors than in the control group.

The study was expected to be presented Saturday at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, in Chicago.

"These findings may have important implications for women who are interested in having children after receiving chemotherapy," study leader Dr. Ann Partridge said in a prepared statement. "Studies that track breast cancer survivors following treatment are needed to determine the predictive value of these tests for pregnancy."

More information

Breastcancer.org has more about breast cancer and fertility and pregnancy.

SOURCE: American Society of Clinical Oncology, news release, May 29, 2008

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