Hormone stimulation for fertility preservation did not increase relapse rate in women with breast cancer

Women who received hormone stimulation for fertility preservation did not have a higher relapse rate in breast cancer compared with unexposed control women in a study from Karolinska Institutet in Sweden published in Breast Cancer Research and Treatment. The results could influence the clinical practice for young cancer patients wishing to pursue fertility preservation.

Women presenting with breast cancer are often excluded from programs for fertility preservation due to a fear that the hormonal stimulation treatments required to retrieve eggs/embryos for cryopreservation might increase the risk of relapse.

Because breast cancer is the most common malignancy in women, researchers at Karolinska Institutet conducted a study to investigate the safety of fertility preservation in 188 women with breast cancer who had undergone hormonal treatment from 1999-2013 in the Stockholm healthcare region. The control group of 378 women comprised data retrieved from the Regional Breast Cancer Register. Data linkage to the register allowed the researchers to follow-up the progress of both the exposed women, who underwent fertility preservation treatment, and the unexposed matched controls, who did not receive fertility preservation treatment, over the same period.

The study findings reveal that women who received hormone stimulation did not present with a higher relapse rate than unexposed control women. The results remained virtually unchanged after adjustment for age and calendar period of diagnosis, tumour size, oestrogen receptor status, affected lymph nodes and chemotherapy treatment.

"Our work could potentially influence medical care and clinical practice to the benefit of young cancer patients wishing to pursue fertility preservation options", says the responsible researcher, Kenny Rodriguez-Wallberg, at the Department of Oncology-Pathology, Karolinska Institutet. "Having a chance to build a future family after surviving cancer is currently recognized as a primary quality of survival issue for young people with cancer".

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