Fertility Preservation Boosts Birth Rate After Breast Cancer Treatment

Women with breast cancer who undergo fertility preservation with breast cancer are more likely to give birth than those who do not, researchers report.

Women with breast cancer (BC) who undergo fertility preservation (FP) have a significantly higher likelihood of giving birth than those women with BC who do not undergo FP, according to findings published in JAMA Oncology.

Among women BC is the most common type of cancer, and about 10% of patients with breast cancer are women under the age of 45, some who have not yet had their first child. During chemotherapy and hormonal treatments women are often pushes into early menopause due to damage of ovarian tissue.

For women who wish to have a child after breast cancer treatment, FP can be in the form of freezing the egg, embryo or ovarian tissue.

This particular study was conducted in Sweden from 1994 to 2017. Researchers followed 425 women with BC who received FP at a Swedish university, and a matched control group 850 women with BC but no history of FP. Data of live births, assisted reproductive technology (ART) use and morality rate were also collected from population-based registers.

Of the 425 women who had FP, 97 of them had at least one live birth post BC over a span of 4.6 years. Out of the 850 women who did not undergo FP, 74 of them had at least one live birth post BC over a span of 4.8 years.

Additionally, women in the FP group had a lower incidence of death over five years at 5.3%, compared to the 11.1% for women without FP exposure. However, there is no direct conclusion or connection between causality rat and FP.

While it is possible for women to have a successful pregnancy with or without FP, but the results of this study show that those with FP do have significantly higher rates of post-BC births.

“It is possible that the desire, and not just the ability, to have children differed between the groups and that this, at least to some degree, explains the differences in childbirths. This is something that future research will have to expand on,” says Kenny Rodriguez-Wallberg, the study’s senior researcher and author.

A major limitation of this study is lack of data on intent to have a child at time of diagnosis. Researchers mention, women who do wish to have children have treatment often do receive FP, so there is a lack of data on why the women in the control group without FP did not receive it or if they did not intend to become pregnant.

Study author Anna Marklund says, “We hope that the conclusions of our study can increase the body of knowledge so that more women with breast cancer who want children can make informed decisions in consultation with their doctors.”

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