Chances of conceiving after treatment?


Question from Rhoda: I had a mastectomy with reconstruction in my right breast, and implants will be put in my left and right breasts after treatment -- chemotherapy and Herceptin (chemical name: trastuzumab). I am 36 years old. My husband and I have been married for 2 years and would like to have at least one child. I have an intrauterine device (IUD) in me as a barrier. Once the doctor gives us the green light to start having a kid, I will have the IUD removed. What are my chances of conceiving?
Answers - Leslie R. Schover, Ph.D. The breast reconstruction has no influence of your chances of getting pregnant. It is often hard to give a statistic on an individual woman. Your chances of being able to get pregnant depend on the chemotherapy drugs you're getting, the total dose you get, and your age. Many women who are over 35 do go into a permanent menopause, but some do not. It is hard to make a clear prediction for you as a person rather than a group of women.
Kutluk Oktay, M.D. Not going into menopause does not mean that you are fertile.
Leslie R. Schover, Ph.D. In other words, even if your periods return, you still may not be as fertile as most 36-year-old women.
Kutluk Oktay, M.D. I would say, even if your periods return, you may have lost your fertility. Women in their perimenopausal years may continue to menstruate without having a chance of pregnancy. If you will be receiving one of the standard chemotherapy regimens such as ACT (Adriamycin [chemical name: doxorubicin), Cytoxan [chemical name: cyclophosphamide], and Taxol [chemical name: paclitaxel]) or CMF (Cytoxan, methotrexate, and fluorouracil), your ovaries will behave after chemotherapy as if you're in your 40s. And based on this expert’s experience and studies, you will have a very small chance of conceiving. If there's a possibility, any woman in this situation should consider freezing eggs or embryos before treatment has begun.

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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