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FERTILITY PRESERVATION FOR WOMEN WITH BREAST CANCER

I recently was  invited to speak in front of a group of breast cancer surgeons finishing their training. In preparing for this talk, I learned that more than 11,000 women under the age of 40 are diagnosed with breast cancer each year.

Many of these women have not had children at the time of their diagnosis and less than 10% will have children after treatment. Cytoxan is a very effective and commonly used chemotherapy drug for breast cancer. Unfortunately, it destroys most eggs.

Highly successful egg and embryo cryopreservation is available to preserve fertility once the cancer has been defeated. I was happy to share my expertise about fertility preservation.

What is fertility preservation for cancer patients?

  • Fertility preservation is not complicated.
  • Cancer patients are seen by a team of physicians, nurses, and financial counselors at RMA of Philadelphia within 24 hours of making the original phone call for an appointment.
  • Within two days, almost all of their medication will be provided for free by Ferring Pharmaceuticals through Walgreens Pharmacy.
  • Fertility drugs can be started at any point in a woman’s menstrual cycle. Typically, 10 days of injections with very small needles are needed to mature multiple eggs.
  • Egg retrieval under sedation anesthesia takes only 10 or 15 minutes and is pain free.
  • Women who have a partner often will freeze fertilized eggs whereas those who do not have a partner typically will freeze eggs for future use. The vitrification freezing techniques that RMA uses are highly effective in freezing eggs and embryos for future use.
  • Studies have shown that women with breast cancer who choose to preserve their fertility have survival rates just as high as those who do not have fertility preservation treatment.

Early referral to a fertility specialist maximizes the chance these cancer patients can have their own children once their cancer is cured.

Call 855-RMA-inPA to set up a consultation with a physician who can help you create a plan for parenthood.

By: Art Castelbaum, MD