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Navigating breast cancer and infertility risk

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Asian mother embracing her baby boy

Unfortunately, some common breast cancer treatments can threaten patients’ future ability to have children. After a cancer diagnosis, the prospect of infertility for patients who want to grow their families can be yet another challenge they must confront. In light of World Infertility Awareness Month, we’ve compiled a list of educational resources and support services available for patients facing infertility risk after a breast cancer diagnosis.

Breast cancer treatment & infertility risk

For premenopausal breast cancer patients, fertility planning is an important conversation to have with your doctor before starting treatment for cancer, as some common breast cancer treatments can threaten your fertility. Here are the some common treatments and their associated risks:

  • Chemotherapy can cause damage to reproductive organs
  • Hormone therapies can cause ovaries to stop producing eggs
  • Changing hormone levels from endocrine therapy or ongoing chemotherapy can cause early-onset menopause
  • To reduce future risk of cancer, some women have their ovaries removed, triggering medically induced menopause

It is important to note, however, that some women may experience temporary infertility during active treatment or have a more difficult time getting pregnant after treatment ends, but infertility is not always permanent depending on the course of treatment. In fact, recent findings from the POSITIVE clinical trial revealed that women who paused endocrine therapy for up to two years in order to get pregnant did not experience worse breast cancer recurrence rates.

Fertility preservation & support resources

The Chick Mission: A non-profit organization with a goal to ensure young women with breast cancer have the option to preserve their fertility. Through various educational programs, advocacy efforts, and direct financial support services, The Chick Mission helps young, newly diagnosed breast cancer patients reserve the option to have children after treatment.

The Young Survival Coalition: A support network for young adults diagnosed with breast cancer. This organization provides a supportive community to young patients and offers educational resources on a variety of topics related to treatment, including family planning and fertility preservation.

The Alliance for Fertility Preservation (AFP): A non-profit network of professionals on a mission to advance fertility preservation. The AFP is committed to helping cancer patients access the fertility preservation services they deserve through informational resources and awareness campaigns about fertility options.

A Damn Good Life: An organization on a mission to support young breast cancer survivors throughout the entire surrogacy process. The surrogacy process typically costs around $150,000 and is not covered by insurance. By providing financial assistance and other support services, A Damn Good Life helps survivors realize their dreams of becoming parents, no matter their financial situation.

If you have questions about your breast cancer treatment or potential side effects, or would like advice on how to talk to your care team about fertility preservation, use the Ask Outcomes4Me feature in our app to connect with our team of oncology nurse practitioners. Also join the Outcomes4Me Community to find support from fellow breast cancer patients.

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