FertilityAuthority Recommends Five Questions to Ask about Fertility after a Breast Cancer Diagnosis

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If diagnosed with breast cancer, women should ask questions about fertility preservation methods such as egg freezing and embryo freezing.

Ask questions about fertility preservation before breast cancer treatment.

When a young woman receives a breast cancer diagnosis, preserving her fertility is an important consideration.

During October's is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, FertilityAuthority (http://www.fertilityauthority.com/), the leading web portal for fertility information, is highlighting awareness about fertility preservation options as a part of cancer treatment. The editors recommend five questions women who receive a diagnosis of breast cancer should ask about their fertility before they embark on cancer treatments.

“More than 11,000 women under 40 are diagnosed with breast cancer each year in the United States,” says Jennifer Redmond, Editor-in-Chief at FertilityAuthority. “When a young woman receives a breast cancer diagnosis, one of the last things she may be thinking of is her future ability to have children. But it is an important consideration when making treatment decisions and consulting with physicians, so we recommend asking these five questions.”

1. Will Cancer Treatments Affect Fertility?
Breast cancer patients treated with surgery and localized radiation may not be at risk for infertility, but those treated with chemotherapy are. It also depends on the woman’s age, the type of chemotherapy and the dosage. Another thing to consider is how long treatment may last and whether it will delay childbearing years long enough to pose a risk to fertility.

2. Who Should a Breast Cancer Patient Talk to about Fertility Preservation?
If a woman has been diagnosed with breast cancer, she should talk to her oncologist and tell him or her that she is interested in taking steps to preserve fertility. Cancer patients will need a referral to a reproductive endocrinologist (fertility doctor). Women can find a fertility doctor in their geographic area by typing their zip code in the Find a Local Expert box on FertilityAuthority.

3. What Techniques Are Available to Preserve Fertility?
There are various options for fertility preservation. If the cancer patient is a woman who is married or has a partner, she may choose to freeze embryos (embryo cryopreservation). Single women may want to freeze their eggs (oocyte cryopreservation) or use donor sperm to freeze embryos. Both of these techniques require daily injections of synthetic hormones to stimulate the ovaries in order to collect multiple eggs during a menstrual cycle, as well as an outpatient surgical procedure to retrieve the eggs. Other, more experimental therapies include freezing ovarian tissue (ovarian cryopreservation) by surgically removing it, freezing and reimplanting later, as well as ovarian suppression before cancer therapy, in which hormonal therapies are used to suppress ovarian function and protect eggs during cancer treatment.

4. Are Fertility Preservation Methods Successful?
Embryo freezing is the most successful technique; however a newer process called vitrification has improved egg freezing dramatically. There are now more than 1,000 "frozen egg babies" born worldwide. Ovarian tissue freezing has produced approximately 15 children. The success rates of ovarian suppression treatments are unknown because there are no randomized trials that demonstrate its effectiveness.

5. How Does a Woman Pay for Fertility Preservation?
Fertility preservation techniques such as ovarian tissue preservation, egg freezing or embryo freezing can cost between $12,000 and $20,000 and will probably not be covered by insurance companies. Still, fertility preservation advocates recommend that cancer patients have their fertility doctors code and submit their treatment as cancer treatment. Ovarian suppression methods are less expensive and may be covered by insurance if they are administered in the oncologist’s office. There are also organizations such as Fertile Action and Fertile Hope that can help patients with discounts and/or financial support for fertility preservation.

About FertilityAuthority
Established in 2009, FertilityAuthority is the leading web portal dedicated to fertility, encouraging women and men to be proactive regarding their fertility and providing the tools and information to do so. Visit http://www.fertilityauthority.com/ or find it on Facebook and Twitter.


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Jennifer Redmond
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