Does radiation affect eggs, ovaries?

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Question from Kelly: Does radiation affect eggs in the ovaries of premenopausal women? The numerous x-rays and scanning machines used during treatment concern me, as my husband and I will not be able to try to have children for a while yet.
Answers - Lydia Komarnicky, M.D. After radiation therapy, usually within about two years, we recommend our patients can try to get pregnant. This varies, and I understand is controversial. Some expect their patients to wait longer or have families earlier.

During the course of radiation, we would certainly never treat someone who is pregnant because of the tiny scatter dose to the baby and to the ovaries. This would not be enough to disturb a menstrual cycle or affect fertility, but it's a precautionary measure more than anything.
Marisa Weiss, M.D. The recommendation to wait two years after finishing treatment is separate from the concern about any small scatter to the ovaries. This delay until trying to get pregnant is more related to getting past the highest risk period of recurrence just to make sure you're OK, cancer-free, and ready to take on the responsibility of being a parent.

Editor's Note: For more information about fertility and breast cancer treatment, see's section on Fertility, Pregnancy, and Adoption.

The Ask-the-Expert Online Conference called Radiation Therapy Updates featured Lydia T. Komarnicky, M.D. and Marisa Weiss, M.D. answering your questions about advances in radiation therapy: the newest and best techniques, combining radiation therapy with other treatments, ways to manage, reduce or eliminate side effects, and more.

Editor's Note: This conference took place in March 2004.

The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of 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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Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.

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