Breast Cancer and Fertility
Cancer is the one word you never want to hear your doctor say. Breast cancer, in particular, can be a tremendously deadly form of the disease. While treatment for breast cancer has made progress in the last several years, the fact of the matter is that there are likely going to be side effects of that cancer treatment. One of the unfortunate side effects of cancer treatment, for some women, is infertility.
Treatment for breast cancer depends, of course, on how aggressive it is, and when it’s detected. Early detection is key. Generally speaking, treatment may start with lumpectomies – removal of a lump from the breast. Should the cancer continue to spread, a mastectomy or even a double mastectomy may be necessary. Radiation therapy is next, followed by chemotherapy.
It’s at this stage, in particular, where breast cancer treatment can interfere with fertility. Chemotherapy not only can cause you to lose hair and to experience a loss of appetite, it can affect fertility. Depending on your situation, there is as much as a 30 percent chance that chemotherapy may actually spur you to go into menopause.
Breast cancer is surprisingly common in women of childbearing age, too. About 12 percent of breast cancer victims are under the age of 45.
There are a couple of ways that researchers are trying to help the situation. One of the options has historically been cryopreservation. This is a process whereby the woman’s eggs are frozen, to be used in IVF at a later date . Many women don’t think of this, however, and it’s not an especially affordable option for some.
Researchers are also working on a new drug in Italy that may help the situation. In clinical trials, women who were treated with this drug were slightly less likely to experience premature menopause due to chemotherapy, by about 17 percent.
So, what do you think? Beating breast cancer is, of course, more important than preserving your fertility, isn’t it? If you found yourself in that situation, would it be worth it to you to cryogenically freeze your eggs, in hopes that one day you could still conceive?