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A new study conducted by Dana-Farber Cancer Institute has revealed encouraging news for young women who have survived breast cancer and wish to have children. The study, presented at the 2024 Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, followed nearly 200 young breast cancer survivors and found that the majority of those who attempted to conceive were able to become pregnant and give birth to a child. This study filled gaps left by previous research on pregnancy and live-birth rates among breast cancer survivors.

Participants in the study were part of the Young Women’s Breast Cancer Study, tracking the health of women diagnosed with breast cancer at or under age 40. Of the eligible 1,213 participants, 197 reported an attempt of pregnancy over a median follow-up period of 11 years. The median age at the time of diagnosis was 32 years, and most were diagnosed with hormone receptor-positive breast cancer. Periodic surveys were conducted to track pregnancy attempts, conception, and birth results.

Researchers found that 73% of women who attempted to conceive achieved pregnancy, while 65% had a live birth. Participants who pursued fertility preservation through egg/embryo freezing before cancer treatment had a higher live birth rate, whereas older participants had lower pregnancy and live birth rates. The stage of breast cancer at diagnosis, ranging from stage 0 to stage III, did not have a statistically significant association with pregnancy or live birth outcomes.

The study’s senior author, Dr. Ann Partridge, emphasized the importance of addressing fertility concerns for young women with breast cancer, as the ability to have children following treatment is a major consideration for many patients. Dr. Kimia Sorouri, the study’s first author, highlighted the significance of the findings in counseling patients about fertility issues. The association between fertility preservation through egg/embryo freezing and higher live birth rates underscores the need for accessible fertility preservation services for this population.

Overall, the study provides valuable insights into the pregnancy and live-birth rates among young breast cancer survivors, offering reassurance for those concerned about their fertility post-treatment. The funding for this research was provided by Susan G. Komen and the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, supporting efforts to improve outcomes and quality of life for breast cancer survivors in their reproductive years. The results of this study contribute to a better understanding of fertility outcomes in young women with breast cancer and can guide discussions and decision-making regarding family planning after cancer treatment.

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