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Why is Fertility Preservation is Important for Breast Cancer Patients

Breast Cancer and Fertility Preservation

Why is fertility preservation important for breast cancer patients? It's because breast cancer is one of the more common cancers, with a woman’s lifetime risk of developing it nearing 1 in 8. But there's good news amid this stark reality:  Improvement in diagnostic tools (mammogram, MRI , ultrasound) is allowing for early detection, resulting in an increased 5 year survival rate!

Better survival rates is always great news, but this means that the conversations around breast cancer should extend beyond just surviving and into THRIVING (post cancer).

This is where fertility preservation (should) come in:

  1. For some, cancer treatment may require chemotherapy. Chemotherapy acts by attacking cancer cells, but in many cases, it does the same to resting oocytes. As a result, many women are left cancer-free, but also with significantly diminished ovarian reserve. 
  2. If chemo isn’t needed, following surgery and/or localized radiation, adjuvant therapy with medications such as raloxifene and tamoxifen are sometimes prescribed for a period of years. These medications don’t allow for pregnancy while taking them and, as a result, delay the family building plans of the individuals that take them, and possibly result in the effects of age-related infertility causing both a decline in oocyte quality and reduced ovarian reserve.

Because many women are delaying starting a family until later, because breast cancer is more commonly being diagnosed in women of younger ages, and because women are SURVIVING breast cancer, fertility preservation is a pivotal conversation for patients to have with their doctors (or specialists like me) at the START of their diagnosis, not at the completion of their treatment.

Author
Dr. Nidhee Sachdev Dr. Nidhee Sachdev Nidhee Sachdev, MD has trained among the most prestigious and diverse medical programs in the country, including fellowship training in reproductive endocrinology and infertility at the prestigious New York University (NYU) Langone Fertility Center in New York City where she conducted research on preimplantation genetic screening (PGS) and the University of Chicago Medical Center, where she earned the academic distinction of chief resident in obstetrics and gynecology, and trained under a top recurrent pregnancy loss expert. Dr. Sachdev is passionate about providing individualized, collaborative patient care. She started her medical career right here in Orange County, earning her Doctor of Medicine at the University of California, Irvine, School of Medicine.

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