Does radiation affect fertility?


Question from Kas: I am 38 years old and was recently diagnosed with adenoid cystic carcinoma of the breast. I had a lumpectomy with clear margins and no lymph nodes involved. I will be undergoing radiation but not chemotherapy. Does radiation affect fertility? How long would you recommend someone with my diagnosis wait before getting pregnant?
Answers - Kutluk Oktay, M.D. Local radiation to the breast does not affect fertility. Breast cancer doctors have been arbitrarily using the wait-and-see for 2 years, however, this not based on scientific study. As a matter of fact, some of the studies show that pregnancy occurring as early as 6 months after treatment does not affect the likelihood of cancer coming back. But for practical reasons, oncologists would like to see patients not getting pregnant because many cancers carry the highest risk of recurrence in the first few years. Management of breast cancer during pregnancy is more complicated because you have to consider the fetus as well. Generally it's advised that these patients wait 2 years.

On Wednesday, September 10, 2008, our Ask-the-Expert Online Conference was called Fertility and Pregnancy. Kutluk Oktay, M.D. and Leslie Schover, Ph.D. answered your questions about breast cancer treatments that can affect your fertility, options for preserving your fertility, being treated for breast cancer while pregnant, and more.

The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of Breastcancer.org. A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.

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