Younger Patients Need Education on Contraceptive Use During Breast Cancer Treatment

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Advice from health care providers about contraceptives was reported by 16.7% of patients polled.
Advice from health care providers about contraceptives was reported by 16.7% of patients polled.

Pregnancy remains feasible even with amenorrhea occurring from breast cancer treatments, and prevalence of contraceptive use among young female patients with breast cancer in Mexico was found to be insufficient in a study recently published in the Journal of Global Oncology.

Chemotherapy and hormonal therapies for breast cancer can affect reproductive function and cause amenorrhea, but fertility remains possible. Researchers conducted a cross-sectional survey at the Instituto Nacional de Cancerología, in Mexico City, Mexico, regarding contraceptive use and counseling among 104 female patients younger than 40 who were treated for breast cancer.

Patients had either completed chemotherapy in the previous 5 years or were receiving long-term treatment with hormonal therapy and/or trastuzumab during the time of the study. Amenorrhea during treatment occurred for 58.7% of patients on chemotherapy and for 54.3% of patients receiving hormonal therapy.

Contraception was used by 51.1% of patients during chemotherapy and 45.7% of patients on hormonal and/or trastuzumab therapy. Sexual activity was reported by 49% of patients during treatment. Although 76.5% of these patients used contraception, only 29.4% of sexually active patients used an effective form of contraception. No pregnancies occurred.

Advice from health care providers about contraceptives was reported by 16.7% of patients, and only 34.6% of patients knew pregnancy was possible even with amenorrhea from breast cancer treatment. Contraceptive use occurred among 83.3% of sexually active women who received contraceptive counseling vs 22.2% of sexually active women who had not (P =.011).

Most young women with breast cancer in this study did not use sufficient contraception. The researchers recommend that contraceptive counseling be a part of care for young female patients with breast cancer.

Reference

Castro-Sanchez A, Martinez-Cannon BA, Platas A, et al. Suboptimal use of effective contraceptive methods in young Mexican women with breast cancer [published online October 9, 2018]. J Glob Oncol. doi: 10.1200/JGO.18.00064

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