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Frozen Eggs Help Breast Cancer Survivors Conceive

Frozen Eggs Help Breast Cancer Survivors Conceive

Freezing their eggs or ovarian tissue before breast cancer treatment increases survivors' chances of having children after recovery, a new study finds.

Nearly 10% of breast cancer cases occur in women younger than 45 years of age, some of whom haven't yet had children, according to researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden.

Treatment often includes chemotherapy, which can damage ovarian tissue, and long-term hormone treatment, which can cause early menopause.

That's why steps to preserve fertility such as freezing eggs, embryos or small pieces of ovarian tissue is often recommended to patients who want to have children in the future, the study authors noted in an institute news release.

The study included 425 breast cancer patients in Sweden who had fertility preservation treatment between 1994 and 2017, and a control group of 850 breast cancer patients who did not.

Compared to the control group, women in the fertility preservation group were 4.8 times more likely to receive assisted reproduction treatments and 2.3 times more likely to give birth after their cancer treatment, the findings showed.

According to the report, 23% of women in the fertility preservation group gave birth to at least one child within an average of 4.6 years after cancer diagnosis, compared with 9% of women in the control group, which was followed for an average of 4.8 years.

Among women who were followed for 10 years, 41% in the fertility preservation group had at least one child, compared with 16% in the control group.

The researchers said their findings show the importance of reproductive counseling and fertility preservation for young women diagnosed with cancer.

"Information about the possibilities of having children after breast cancer treatment, with or without fertility preservation, is very important for women who suffer from breast cancer at reproductive age," said the study's first author, Dr. Anna Marklund, of the department of oncology-pathology at Karolinska Institute in Stockholm.

"We hope that the conclusions of our study can increase the body of knowledge so that more women with breast cancer who want to have children can make informed decisions in consultation with their doctors," she added.

The report was published online Nov. 19 in JAMA Oncology.

More information

For more on women's fertility and cancer, go to the American Cancer Society.

SOURCE: Karolinska Institute, news release, Nov. 19, 2020

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