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Fertility


 

Even in couples who have not yet had children, the urgency of dealing with breast cancer often takes precedence over plans to build a family. Sometimes rash treatment decisions are made that cannot later be reversed. For example, embarking on a course of hormone therapy or chemotherapy may lead to infertility that is not reversible. For younger couples, future fertility is one area that merits as much research as any other aspect of breast cancer treatment.

Breast cancer in itself does not rule out the possibility of having children. Many women go on to have successful pregnancies, with no adverse effect on their health or future outcome. If you're in your child-bearing years and would like to have a baby, it is very important to discuss this issue with all the physicians on your team, including your oncologist, radiation therapist, pathologist, and surgeon. Ask them to review all the details of your case—such as cancer type, degree of spread, amount of radiation you received, and so on—before advising you on whether it is safe for you to get pregnant.

Recent advances in fertility offer new options for women who must undergo treatment that is likely to destroy the eggs in their ovaries and render them sterile.

One option is embryo freezing. For this procedure a few of the woman's eggs are surgically removed, artificially fertilized in vitro then frozen and stored for future re-implantation in the woman's uterus. This procedure has a 10-25% success rate.

Another option is removal and storage of unfertilized eggs—a good option if the woman is not in a relationship. This procedure has a lower (3%) success rate. Make sure you review all your options with a fertility expert.

 

 

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