Frozen eggs and ovarian tissue helped women conceive children after breast cancer

November 19, 2020

Women with breast cancer whose eggs or ovarian tissue were frozen had more children after their diagnosis than women who did not undergo fertility preservation using those methods before start of cancer treatment. That is according to a study by researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden that is published in the journal JAMA Oncology. According to the researchers, the result highlights the importance of reproductive counseling and fertility preservation for women who are diagnosed with cancer at a young age.

"Information about the possibilities of having children after breast cancer treatment, with or without fertility preservation, is very important for women who suffer from breast cancer at reproductive age," says Anna Marklund, first author of the study and PhD student at the Department of Oncology-Pathology, Karolinska Institutet. "We hope that the conclusions of our study can increase the body of knowledge so that more women with breast cancer who want to have children can make informed decisions in consultation with their doctors."

Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer among women. Nearly 10 percent of breast cancer cases occur in women younger than 45 years of age, some of whom have not had their first child when they receive their diagnosis. Breast cancer treatment often includes chemotherapy, which can damage ovarian tissue, and long-term hormonal treatment, which pushes many into early menopause.

Women with cancer who want to have biological children in the future are often recommended fertility preservation in the form of the freezing of eggs, embryos, or small pieces of ovarian tissue. In Sweden, such treatments are offered free of charge to women below 40 years of age who have no more than one child and suffer an illness where the treatment poses a risk to fertility.

In this prospective cohort study, the researchers followed all women with breast cancer (425) who had fertility preservation treatment at Swedish university hospitals between 1994 and 2017. They compared childbirth by these women with a matched control group of 850 breast cancer patients who did not have fertility preservation.

The study showed that childbirth and treatments with assisted reproduction were 2.3 times and 4.8 times, respectively, more common in the group with fertility preservation. Twenty-three percent of the women with fertility preservation gave birth to at least one child within the average span of 4.6 years after diagnosis, compared with 9 percent of the women in the control group who were followed for an average of 4.8 years. Of the women who were followed for 10 years, 41 percent in the group with fertility preservation had at least one child while the corresponding number for the women without fertility preservation treatment was only 16 percent.

One interesting finding in this study is that the mortality rate was lower in the fertility preservation group (5.3 percent), compared with the control group (11.1 percent). It is, however, not possible to draw any conclusions about causality based on the register data the researchers analyzed, since only total survival, not disease-specific survival, was included.

A limitation of the study was a lack of information about why the women in the control group didn't have fertility preservation treatment and whether they wanted to have children when they received their breast cancer diagnosis.

"It is possible that the desire, and not just the ability, to have children differed between the groups and that this, at least to some degree, explains the difference in childbirths. This is something that future research will have to expand on," says Kenny Rodriguez-Wallberg, the study's senior author and researcher at the Department of Oncology-Pathology, Karolinska Institutet. "We can, however, draw the conclusion that fertility preservation is safe in breast cancer patients and that there is a link between this treatment and the probability of having children after breast cancer."
-end-
The research was financed by the Swedish Cancer Society, Radiumhemmet, Stockholm County Council and Karolinska Institutet.

Publication: "Reproductive outcome after breast cancer in women with versus without fertility preservation," Anna Marklund, Frida E Lundberg, Sandra Eloranta, Elham Hedayati, Karin Pettersson, and Kenny A. Rodriguez-Wallberg, JAMA Oncology, online Nov. 19, 2020, doi: 10.1001/jamaoncol.2020.5957

Karolinska Institutet

Related Breast Cancer Articles from Brightsurf:

Oncotarget: IGF2 expression in breast cancer tumors and in breast cancer cells
The Oncotarget authors propose that methylation of DVDMR represents a novel epigenetic biomarker that determines the levels of IGF2 protein expression in breast cancer.

Breast cancer: AI predicts which pre-malignant breast lesions will progress to advanced cancer
New research at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, could help better determine which patients diagnosed with the pre-malignant breast cancer commonly as stage 0 are likely to progress to invasive breast cancer and therefore might benefit from additional therapy over and above surgery alone.

Partial breast irradiation effective treatment option for low-risk breast cancer
Partial breast irradiation produces similar long-term survival rates and risk for recurrence compared with whole breast irradiation for many women with low-risk, early stage breast cancer, according to new clinical data from a national clinical trial involving researchers from The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center - Arthur G.

Breast screening linked to 60 per cent lower risk of breast cancer death in first 10 years
Women who take part in breast screening have a significantly greater benefit from treatments than those who are not screened, according to a study of more than 50,000 women.

More clues revealed in link between normal breast changes and invasive breast cancer
A research team, led by investigators from Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, details how a natural and dramatic process -- changes in mammary glands to accommodate breastfeeding -- uses a molecular process believed to contribute to survival of pre-malignant breast cells.

Breast tissue tumor suppressor PTEN: A potential Achilles heel for breast cancer cells
A highly collaborative team of researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina and Ohio State University report in Nature Communications that they have identified a novel pathway for connective tissue PTEN in breast cancer cell response to radiotherapy.

Computers equal radiologists in assessing breast density and associated breast cancer risk
Automated breast-density evaluation was just as accurate in predicting women's risk of breast cancer, found and not found by mammography, as subjective evaluation done by radiologists, in a study led by researchers at UC San Francisco and Mayo Clinic.

Blood test can effectively rule out breast cancer, regardless of breast density
A new study published in PLOS ONE demonstrates that Videssa® Breast, a multi-protein biomarker blood test for breast cancer, is unaffected by breast density and can reliably rule out breast cancer in women with both dense and non-dense breast tissue.

Study shows influence of surgeons on likelihood of removal of healthy breast after breast cancer dia
Attending surgeons can have a strong influence on whether a patient undergoes contralateral prophylactic mastectomy after a diagnosis of breast cancer, according to a study published by JAMA Surgery.

Young breast cancer patients undergoing breast conserving surgery see improved prognosis
A new analysis indicates that breast cancer prognoses have improved over time in young women treated with breast conserving surgery.

Read More: Breast Cancer News and Breast Cancer Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.