Fertility after Cancer
Times have changed. When I began this work thirty years ago, and continuing for many years, women were strongly advised not to attempt a pregnancy after breast cancer. Most doctors now think that pregnancy is safe for most women and studies have indicated no increased recurrence risk. I know a number of young women who have gone on to have healthy pregnancies and healthy babies after breast cancer.
This is an interview from Living Beyond Breast Cancer with Dr. Elizabeth Ginsburg from BMW about these issues. Per usual, I give you the introduction and then the link to read more:
March 2011 Ask the Expert: Fertility and Pregnancy
Elizabeth S. Ginsburg, MD
Dr. Ginsburg is medical director of the in-vitro fertilization program at Brigham & Women's Hospital. Dr. Ginsburg has 17 years of experience with in-vitro fertilization and has published extensively on predictors of IVF success. Over 10 years ago, she became interested in fertility issues in people diagnosed and treated for cancer and has been actively involved in research on this topic. Her clinical practice now includes women newly diagnosed with breast cancer as well as people who have been diagnosed with cancer and have fertility and hormone deficiency concerns.
Question: Are there any data on the levels of breast cancer recurrence following cancer treatment? The only studies that I have been able to find look at risks of breast cancer associated with IVF carried out prior to chemo, radiation, etc. or are broader studies that look at rates of cancer after IVF. Since I was unable to undergo IVF before my treatment for breast cancer, I would imagine that those sort of studies would underrepresent the risk for me. Is that correct?
Dr. Ginsburg: There is only one paper looking at breast cancer recurrence in women undergoing IVF prior to breast cancer treatment in order to bank embryos for use after the cancer is gone. It is a relatively small study, but it showed no increase in recurrence risk 2 years after diagnosis. There are lots of studies looking at breast cancer recurrence in general, and that depends on factors related to the individual cancer's characteristics.