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Lindsay L. Kroener, MD, discusses fertility preservation in patients with breast cancer.
Lindsay L. Kroener, MD, reproductive endocrinology and infertility specialist, UCLA Health, discusses fertility preservation in patients with breast cancer.
Egg and embryo cryopreservation are the mainstays of treatment in premenopausal patients with breast cancer, Kroener says. The cytotoxic effects of chemotherapy can affect ovarian function, and these effects could influence future fertility, Kroener adds. Ovarian function can be affected in patients depending on their age, their baseline ovarian reserve, and the type of treatment they receive, Kroener adds. Although these treatments aren't viable for every patient, egg and embryo cryopreservation represent viable options for preserving fertility, Kroener explains.
To conduct cryopreservation, a patient receives injectable gonadotropins for 8-12 days, Kroener continues. A patient is monitored during this period before egg extraction is performed within a 2-week period, so only a limited amount of time is needed to complete the process prior to the start of cancer treatment, Kroener says. Once the eggs are extracted, they be cryopreserved immediately, or they can be grown into embryos if sperm is available to fertilize the eggs before the being cryopreserved, Kroener adds.
Since 2012, egg cryopreservation has been considered non-experimental, so this is a viable option for patients, rather than the cryopreservation of embryos, Kroener concludes.