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Ovarian Reserve May Recover After Chemotherapy

Women diagnosed with breast cancer during their child bearing years might be able to breathe a sigh of relief. A new study indicates that women can recover about half their ovarian reserve within 13 months of chemotherapy. That means women who were unable to freeze enough oocytes before undergoing treatment may be able to stimulate production for cryopreservation once chemo is over.

The new research comes from a prospective cohort study that involved about 66 breast cancer patients. The women all resumed menstruating following treatments, as well. Researchers also found that women who received Lupron during treatment had higher antral follicle counts.

Chemotherapy has long been known to increase the risk of infertility and early menopause. Some studies, however, have found that as many as 80 percent of women are able to regain a certain degree of ovarian function after treatments are over. Function begins to return within about six months, if at all. Researchers found the greatest improvements showed up about 13 months out from treatment.

Breast cancer strikes about 246,000 American women each year. About 40,000 women die from the disease. Chemotherapy is one of the most common treatments prescribed when breast cancer is diagnosed. This typically takes place following surgical procedures to remove cancerous tissue. Although chemotherapy can cause a number of undesirable side effects, such as infertility, it is considered one of the most effective treatments for many forms of cancer.

All women are at risk for the development of breast cancer as they age. While the disease tends to present later in life, women in their child bearing years are not immune. Women who are diagnosed with breast cancer are urged to talk to their doctors about any recommended treatments. If preserving fertility is a priority, freezing eggs prior to chemo can prove beneficial. The new research shows that even after chemo, it may be possible for women to harvest viable eggs, as well.

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