(HealthDay News) — Fertility concerns are common among young women with newly diagnosed breast cancer, although only a minority pursue fertility preservation strategies, according to a study published online Feb. 24 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Kathryn J. Ruddy, M.D., M.P.H., from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, and colleagues surveyed women (≤40 years) with newly diagnosed early-stage breast cancer regarding fertility concerns. Sociodemographic, medical, and treatment data were investigated in a baseline survey, while a modified Fertility Issues Survey was used to examine fertility concern and preservation items.

The researchers found that 68 percent of the 620 eligible respondents (median age, 37 years) discussed fertility issues with their physicians before therapy initiation. Fifty-one percent of women expressed concern about becoming infertile after treatment. Due to fertility concerns, 1 percent of women chose not to receive chemotherapy and 2 percent selected one chemotherapy regimen over another. Similarly, 1 percent of women considered not receiving endocrine therapy; 3 percent opted not to receive endocrine therapy; and 11 percent considered receiving endocrine therapy for less than five years due to concerns about fertility. Fertility preservation strategies were used by 10 percent of women. Younger age, nonwhite race, not having children, and receipt of chemotherapy correlated with greater concern about fertility.

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“Many young women with newly diagnosed breast cancer have concerns about fertility, and for some, these substantially affect their treatment decisions,” the authors write.

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