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Breast Cancer Awareness 2015

Dalton Daily CItizen, Dalton Magazine

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26 Breast Cancer Awareness 2015 054000199663 A new study shows that breast cancer patients can conceive healthy children following treatment By Rachel Graf CTW Features Surviving breast cancer and having children do not have to be mutually exclusive. Although breast cancer treatments like chemotherapy often do negatively affect a woman's ability to have children, there are ways to preserve a woman's fertility should she want to have children after treatment. "It's not a question of if [post- treatment women] are going to have damage, but if they can afford to have damage from these treatments," said Dr. Kutluk Oktay, medical director and founder at Innovation Institute for Fertility Preservation and In Vitro Fertilization, New York City. "So, it all depends on the patient's desire – whether they want to have a large family and what their age is and all that." For younger women who have undergone breast cancer treatments and do want to grow their family, a study titled, "Fertility Preservation Success Subsequent to Concurrent Aromatase Inhibitor Treatment and Ovarian Stimulation in Women With Breast Cancer" published by the Journal of Clinical Oncology has some encouraging findings. The study concluded that women who froze their embryos with eggs extracted before breast cancer treatment were likely to successfully have children after treatment. The study included 131 women younger than 45 who had been diagnosed with stage I to stage III breast cancer. Of these women, 33 transferred a frozen embryo into either their bodies or a surrogate's body after breast cancer treatment. These 33 women underwent 40 embryo transfer attempts that resulted in 18 pregnancies. None of the pregnancies had birth defects. This birth rate is very similar to the birth rate of infertile women of the same age who have undergone in vitro fertilization but who had not been diagnosed with breast cancer, according to the study. Breast cancer patients in particular are well suited for this method of fertility preservation because many breast cancer treatments cause women to undergo menopause 10 years earlier than normal. Also, women are born with a set number of eggs, and they naturally will lose some throughout the course of treatment. This paired with early onset menopause can make natural conception after treatment especially difficult for these women, says Dr. Oktay, who was one of the study's authors. "A combination of chemotherapy and waiting doesn't work very well," Dr. Oktay says. No major risks beyond those associated with in vitro fertilization have been associated with this procedure, Dr. Oktay says. For fertility preservation to be useful, however, women should not be older than 45, as fertility ends around age 45. The women in the study were an average age of 41.5 when the transfers were completed. "Any female who is healthy enough and younger than 45 and is going to receive a treatment that can affect their fertility should be considered for a treatment that will preserve their fertility," Dr. Oktay says. © CTW Features FIRST COMES CANCER, THEN COMES BABY

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