Young cancer survivers increase chances of pregnancy


Researchers have found that although women who survived cancer in their childhood have a increased chance of infertility, they still have a chance of conceiving.

Cancer survivors do get pregnant

About two-third od women who suffered from childhood cancer become pregnant. The researchers say this is a pregnancy rate similar to that seen in non-cancer patients who receive fertility treatment. A survey was conducted by Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, as well as Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. The study tracked women who were diagnosed with cancer while under the age of 21.

Most cancer survivors eventually became pregnant

The study considered women who were trying to get pregnant. They analyzed 3, 531 women from the Childhood Cancer Survivor Study (CCCS) between the ages of 18 and 39 as well as 1,366 of their female siblings for comparison. Of 455 study participants who reported clinical infertility 64% eventually became pregnant.
In the youngest group of survivors, under the age of 24, showed the greatest infertility at three times more than their similarly aged siblings. The infertility difference though decreases with age and is less pronounced when the women hit their 30s.

Bias for treatment

Interestingly, the siblings were more likely to receive prescribed drugs for infertility than their cancer-survivor sisters. “We do not have data about why providers did not prescribe infertility drugs, but are concerned about a provider bias against treating cancer survivors for infertility. Perhaps providers assessed the chance of success as poor and therefore decided not to attempt therapy, or perhaps survivors were less motivated to take drugs after previous extensive treatment. Alternatively, reproductive medicine providers might have been uncomfortable with perceived medical comorbidities,” explained Dr. Sara Barton, leader of the study.

Two items underscored

First, young women with a cancer diagnosis need to be told what their options are for preserving fertility. Second, young women who have survived cancer need to be encouraged and fully treated when looking for help to get pregnant.

Source: MedicalNewsToday, The Lancet Oncology


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