Many Breast Cancer Survivors' Desire for Pregnancy Changes After Treatment

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Chemotherapy treatment can have an adverse impact on fertility for women with breast cancer.
Chemotherapy treatment can have an adverse impact on fertility for women with breast cancer.
The following article features coverage from the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) 2018 meeting. Click here to read more news highlights from ESMO 2018.

Natural pregnancy after chemotherapy treatment is possible, according to the findings of a study presented at the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) 2018 Congress. However, many breast cancer survivors no longer wish to become pregnant after undergoing chemotherapy treatment.

Chemotherapy treatment is known to have a negative impact on fertility for women with breast cancer. However its effects on fertility posttreatment have yet to be investigated until now. In this study, 60 patients, ages 18 to 40 years, with nonmetastatic breast cancer who had been treated with chemotherapy were surveyed. The median length of time since concluding chemotherapy treatment was 57 months. All patients at the time of the survey were in complete remission.

However, in more than half the patients, the cancer had spread to the lymph nodes at the time of diagnosis, increasing the likelihood of cancer recurrence. Additionally, the tumors in 10 women were diagnosed as triple negative tumors and could not be treated with the antihormonal treatment usually prescribed post chemotherapy.

While undergoing chemotherapy, 83% of patients experienced a lack of menstruation. “This was an expected finding,” said Jérôme Martin-Babau, from Centre Armoricain de Radiothérapie, Imagerie Médicale et Oncologie in Plérin, France, and lead study author. “What we didn't expect was that 86% of these patients also reported their menstrual cycle returning to normal within the year following the end of chemotherapy — an indication that the treatment had not completely damaged their ovaries,” he continued.

Prior to treatment, more than one-third of the women had plans to become pregnant. However, after chemotherapy treatment only one in ten still desired a future pregnancy. Over the course of the study, 4 women did become pregnant but 2 eventually miscarried.


Martin-Babau J, Toudic-Emily F, Boivin A-H, et al. Pregnancies after breast cancer, is there a real need for fertility preservation? Results from the ARTEMIS cohort of 60 young patients. Poster presentation at: ESMO 2018 Congress; October 19-23, 2018; Munich, Germany.

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