[ Back to EurekAlert! ] Public release date: 29-May-2008
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Contact: Bill Schaller
william_schaller@dfci.harvard.edu
617-632-5357
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Study suggests chemotherapy diminishes fertility in breast cancer patients

CHICAGO--Pre-menopausal breast cancer survivors who were treated with chemotherapy following surgery were more likely to have diminished ovarian reserve - the capacity of the ovaries to provide eggs capable of being fertilized - compared to women who have never had breast cancer, according to a study led by Dana-Farber Cancer Institute investigators. Their findings will be presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), May 30-June 3, in Chicago.

The researchers analyzed markers of ovarian reserve in 20 premenopausal breast cancer patients who had been treated with adjuvant chemotherapy, who were one or more years out from their diagnosis, and who had no evidence of recurrence. This group was compared with a "control" group of 20 like-aged women without a history of the disease.

The evaluation involved five tests conducted two, three or four days after a menstrual cycle to assess the ovaries' physical condition, hormone levels and a compound involved in the menstrual cycle. In four of the five tests, the breast cancer survivors had a worse ovarian reserve than did the control group. The other test showed no major difference between the two groups.

"These findings may have important implications for women who are interested in having children after receiving chemotherapy," said Ann Partridge, MD, MPH, of Dana-Farber, who led the study. "Studies that track breast cancer survivors following treatment are needed to determine the predictive value of these tests for pregnancy."

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The results (abstract 9571) will be presented during a poster session on Saturday, May 31, 2 - 6 p.m., South Building, Hall A1.

The study's co-authors are Kathryn Ruddy, MD, Shari Gelber, Eric Winer, MD, and Meghan Meyer of Dana-Farber, Boston; Lidia Schapira, MD, of Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston; and Elizabeth Ginsburg, MD, senior author, and Mary Abusief, MD, of Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston.

Financial support for the study was provided by the Lance Armstrong Foundation.

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (www.dana-farber.org) is a principal teaching affiliate of the Harvard Medical School and is among the leading cancer research and care centers in the United States. It is a founding member of the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center (DF/HCC), designated a comprehensive cancer center by the National Cancer Institute.



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