Breast cancer treatment has a number of effects on the body. While cancer treatment can defeat the cancerous cells within the body, treatment can have a number of side effects. Treatment for breast cancer and fertility concerns go hand in hand. Unfortunately, the same medications that destroy cancer cells can also impede a woman’s ability to get pregnant in the future. Therefore, it is important to consider fertility preservation before starting treatment.
Breast Cancer and Fertility
The impact treatment of breast cancer has on a woman’s fertility is dependent on a number of factors. Her age, type of cancer and treatment protocol are all factors. Some treatment methods do not have an impact on fertility. However, if chemotherapy is being used as a treatment method, women should consider using fertility preservation. The best way to know if your fertility will be impacted by breast cancer treatment is to speak with your oncologist.
Fertility Preservation Methods
There are multiple ways to preserve fertility prior to breast cancer treatment. Traditionally, egg freezing was the chosen method. During a preservation cycle, fertility drugs are used to promote the growth of multiple eggs. Once they’ve reached maturity, the healthy eggs are retrieved and stored for use at a later time. This way, a woman has her own eggs, that are unaffected by chemotherapy, available once she’s ready to start a family.
An advancement in the field of fertility preservation is the use of ovarian tissue freezing. With this method, sections of the outer layers of the ovaries are removed and stored. The outer layer houses immature eggs, allowing hundreds of eggs to be harvested at a single time without waiting for fertility drugs to take effect. After treatment, the retrieved tissue can be returned to the body where it will begin to function normally, allowing a woman to get pregnant naturally. Another option is to mature the stored eggs in a lab setting for use in IVF or via surrogate.
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