More and more women contract breast cancer during their pregnancy phase. This raises a serious problem whether this will affect their chance of fertility.
There is not any satisfactory answer to the question: How breast cancer affects fertility. The final conclusion depends on numerous factors, and this article will elaborate on some that you might need to know. But most importantly, having breast cancer does not mean infertility.
Type of treatment
Not all breast cancer treatment affects fertility. Patients who need only surgery and radiation would still maintain the ability to have children. However, when it comes to chemotherapy, the risk of ovarian failure and very early menopause is extremely high.
Type and stage of cancer
How advanced a cancer is upon detection, as well as what type it is, dictate whether chemotherapy will be required, thereby affecting the risk of side effects to the ovaries.
The type of tumor also affects the chance of being pregnant of a woman. A small percentage of breast cancer are hormonally sensitive, which means that they could not be treated by using hormone and thus must be cured by chemotherapy.
Age of patient
The age of a patient is an indicator of infertility. Women over 30 are most likely to be exposed to declining infertility and chemotherapy induce menopause to women over 40 years old.
Despite the fertility risks associated with breast cancer treatment (chemotherapy in particular), methods to preserve fertility prior to treatment offers hope to many patients.
The most promising method is to have one’s egg frozen by using vitro fertilization. However, this presents some disadvantages as the sperm must be readily available to fertilize the egg and the cost is extravagant.
Relapse and harms to offspring
Relapse is a serious question that draws the attention of many cancer survivors. It is recommended that survivor waits two years before becoming pregnant as the most severe relapse occurs within the first two years of treatment completion.
There is a concern among survivors that their child could be vulnerable to cancer. However, according to experts, this risk is extremely small, as only 5% of breast cancer patient truly inherited the genes from their mother or father. However, it might worth noticing that an interplay between a collection of genes, when added to certain environmental factors, results in breast cancer.
In any cases, it is important that patient address this problem to their current doctors. However, as oncologist are usually trained to provide the best cancer treatment, so the patients need to be specific about their plans before consulting their doctors.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Review Date: May 21, 2017 | Last Modified: May 25, 2017
WebMD, How breast cancer affect fertility, http://www.webmd.com/breast-cancer/features/how-breast-cancer-affects-fertility#1.
The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team, Pregnancy after breast cancer. Accessed June 1, 2016.