Chemotherapy and Menopause – How Pre Menopausal Women Can Prevent Infertility During Breast Cancer Treatment

by Laura Ramirez on July 20, 2011

Chemotherapy and menopause are often an unfortunate consequence for young women who have been treated for breast cancer. Although chemo can be a successful treatment for putting cancer into remission, it can come at a heavy price: early onset menopause which may forever alter a young woman’s ability to start a family or conceive another child. Since premature ovarian failure (POF) cannot be reversed, this risk has many young women refusing treatment.

So what’s the solution? Researchers in Italy think they might ᅠhave found an answer. By suppressing the ovaries production of hormones during chemotherapy for breast cancer, scientists have found that a large percentage of women do not go through menopause.

It is estimated that about six to seven percent of breast cancers are diagnosed in women under the age of 40, and chemotherapy in this young population carries a particular side effect risk not seen in older women: that of early-onset menopause. ᅠ

Between 10-50 percent of young breast cancer patients experience chemo-induced menopause, and the degree of risk is dependent on their age at the time of treatment.ᅠᅠ
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Researchers at theᅠIstituto Nazionale per la Ricerca sul Cancro in Italy divided almost 300 women into two groups: one who received a drug to suppress the production of female hormones along with chemotherapy and another group that received chemo, but no other treatment. In other words, this second group did not have their ovarian hormone production suppressed. ᅠ

While there was no difference in terms of the effectiveness of the chemo for breast cancer, the difference in the number of cases of early onset menopause in both groups was quite significant. What this means is that women who are pre menopausal may be able to preserve their fertility even when undergoing chemotherapy for treatment of breast cancer. This is great news for women around the world.

What are your thoughts on this? Have you gone through chemotherapy and menopause? Feel free to share your story below.

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