Source: The New York Times – May 30, 2014
A drug used to treat prostate and breast cancer may also have the ability to preserve fertility in women who are undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer, according to a recent presentation at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting in Chicago.
The researchers conducted a clinical trial with 257 premenopausal women who were under 50 years old and receiving chemotherapy for breast cancer prior to or after tumor removal. The women were placed into two groups and treated with or without goserelin, a drug used to suppress reproductive hormones by producing a postmenopausal state.
Young patients have a high likelihood of survival after cancer treatment, and are more likely to still be in their childbearing years once in remission.
At 2-year follow-up, 8% of women who took goserelin during their chemotherapy experienced premature ovarian failure compared with 22% of women in the group that did not take goserelin. In addition, 21% of women in the group who took goserelin became pregnant, and 15% in the group had children.
While the results in this study are promising and the study is the first of its kind to use pregnancy and live birth rate as outcomes, guidelines endorsed by ASCO state goserelin should not be relied on to preserve fertility.
From Our Expert, Dr. Ronald Feinberg
“Preserving fertility prior to cancer treatment still offers the best chance of success”
Young patients have a high likelihood of survival after cancer treatment, and are more likely to still be in their childbearing years once in remission. The inability to have a family is a major source of anxiety for many of these patients. It is important for them to have a conversation about fertility preservation options prior to cancer treatment and to be offered the opportunity to make an informed decision.
While some patients may be able to conceive naturally after cancer treatment, this is not a guarantee. Different cancer treatments have varying effects on fertility—some are higher risk than others. Fertility preservation offers patients the opportunity to preserve their gametes before these potentially toxic treatments.
At RADfertility, we offer fertility preservation through cryopreserving (freezing) eggs, sperm or embryos prior to any chemotherapy or radiation. These freezing techniques offer the best chance for success. One can think of cryopreserved eggs or embryos as being frozen in time: the likelihood of pregnancy with them will always be the same as the day they were retrieved. And while the likelihood of pregnancy is always higher when patients preserve their fertility at a younger age, RADfertility will always discuss the likelihood of success using egg and embryo freezing with each individual. Many patients find the likelihood of pregnancy is higher with a frozen embryo or egg preserved prior to treatment, if their ovaries were affected by chemotherapy.
The technology behind cryopreserving eggs and embryos has changed in recent years, leading to significant advancements in vitrification, or flash freezing, techniques. Egg freezing is no longer considered experimental by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), and many offices now have years of experience. However, patients should ask about the length of time a particular lab has been performing egg freezing before choosing a center.
At RADfertility, our laboratory has experience with freezing embryos for over 17 years, and has been freezing eggs since 2008. For patients who cannot use their own eggs, we currently use a frozen donor egg bank—our pregnancy success rates with this bank are over 70%. While these eggs are from young women without infertility, our lab has extensive experience handling these frozen eggs and we have confidence in our ability to successfully freeze, warm and fertilize eggs.
Cancer patients today have many fertility preservation resources available to them, including a consultation with RADfertility prior to chemotherapy and egg, sperm or embryo freezing. Ferring Reproductive Health has a Heart Beat program that offers free fertility medications for patients with a cancer diagnosis prior to any treatment.
More Patient Experience Resources
Patient Care Team
Meet RADfertility’s exceptional staff that goes above and beyond on many levels of patient care.
Top Fertility Doctors
Meet RADfertility's clinical team made up of compassionate and caring women who will be by your side every step of your journey to parenthood.
Read Our Blog
Inspiring community members that are making a difference to the latest news put in perspective for our patients.
RADfertility's Seeds of Success program is founded on inspiring stories from men and women who found success at RADfertility.
Celebrating 25 Years
In August 1995, Dr. Barbara McGuirk founded Reproductive Associates, now RADfertility, and was soon joined by her partner, Dr. Ron Feinberg. See how we celebrated this special milestone!
Read our latest reviews written by RADfertility patients.
If you are looking to join an enthusiastic team that has helped thousands of families grow, check out our current job listings.
"I feel so lucky to have found RADfertility. I tried two other clinics before I expanded my search and found RADfertility. I drive an hour each way to go to them but I don’t regret a thing. They are so caring and so professional. Every time I message them they respond quickly. Every time I see them they have a friendly smile and warm welcome. They explain everything so well and I never feel lost in the process as I did elsewhere. They also took the time to figure out what was wrong. Other clinics threw up their hands, said 'I don’t know' and pushed me to try IVF."
"Dr. Feinberg and the entire staff at RADfertility are absolutely amazing. The receptionists, coordinators, nurses, and lab staff are compassionate, caring, and straight forward. I’ve had a 12-year infertility journey and I’ve tried other clinics but RADfertility was the only one I felt at ease with. They answered any questions that I had and were there any time I needed them. My coordinator, Amy, was the absolute best and always had my back. Dr. Feinberg’s dedication to his patients is incredible. You are not just a number there, you are a person with individualized needs and care."
"My journey with RADfertility and Dr. McGuirk started when my husband and I were trying to conceive and were having difficulty. We went to RADfertility, where we met Dr. McGuirk. I always say she changed my life and 'fixed' me. Dr. McGuirk is always learning more about endometriosis and how to help her patients. She’s brilliant and truly cares for you! I’m eternally grateful to her and everyone at RADfertility for their unwavering support, love, and care."
"Every step of our journey was tailored to us. We were treated so respectfully. Every detail was clearly explained and we felt so comfortable. Rhonda Wright was a Godsend and inspiring. I highly recommend this place! I cried when my weekly appointments were done and I 'graduated.'"
"The day I met Dr. Neithardt I knew she was the perfect doctor for me. Dr. Neithardt was so compassionate every step of the way. She held my hand, she hugged away tears, and continued to give me hope. There are not enough 'thank you's' in the world for Dr. Neithardt and the whole RADfertility team who will forever have a special place in my heart."
"RADfertility's staff has heart and provided me with exceptional health care. I knew I was in good hands and felt like we were in this together. The doctors and nursing staff always answered all of my questions and provided thorough information about all of my options. I am so fortunate and appreciative of the care that I received at RADfertility. They go above and beyond."
"I cannot begin to explain how wonderful RADfertility is. We were frustrated with trying to start a family and it not working for us. The entire team of doctors and nurses made us feel comfortable and hopeful that we would be parents. We experienced so many ups and downs but we never felt like we were on our IVF journey alone, we had our RADfertility team every step of the way. If you're looking for a supportive team on the IVF journey, look no further. RADfertility is the absolute best."
"Dr. Schillings always kept us informed and never gave up on us. She always explained our options and risks with each procedure. She called us personally when there were any issues or sensitive subjects to cover. Dr. Schillings was the first doctor that had answers for us and wanted to help us have our miracle baby!"
4735 Ogletown-Stanton Road
Medical Arts Pavilion 2
Newark, DE 19713
Silverside Medical Center
2700 Silverside Road, Suite 2A
Wilmington, DE 19810
Eden Hill Medical Center
200 Banning Street, Suite 240
Dover, DE 19904
Phone: (302) 602-8822
Fax: (302) 602-8832