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Drug can Help Breast Cancer Patients’ Fertility

Update Date: Jun 03, 2014 01:37 PM EDT

One of the most effective treatments for breast cancer is chemotherapy. However, chemotherapy can increase a woman's risk of early menopause, which then prevents the patient from being able to have babies. Roughly a quarter of breast cancer cases occur in women under 50 who might still want children. Now, there might be a treatment option for these women. According to a new study, researchers found a drug that could potentially help with fertility.

In this study, the research team examined the health of nearly 250 breast cancer patients between the ages of 18 and 49. The women were diagnosed with hormone receptor-negative breast cancer and were set to receive chemotherapy. The researchers randomly divided the sample into two groups. The first group received standard chemotherapy treatment whereas the second group had the same chemotherapy treatment supplemented with the drug, goserelin. The researchers then examined the number of people who experienced early menopause and the number of people who were able to get pregnant successfully two years after their treatment ended.

The researchers discovered that out of the 100 patients in the goserelin group 20 of them went through early menopause. In the chemotherapy-only group, 45 out of 100 women had early menopause. For women trying to get pregnant, those in the drug group were more likely to get pregnant in comparison to the women in the chemotherapy-only group. Despite the increase in fertility and the reduction in early menopause risk, the researchers found that women in the drug group experienced more side effects from their chemotherapy. These side effects included hot flushes, vaginal dryness and mood changes.

Overall, around 11 in 100 women died. Roughly one third of the participants had dropped out of the study. The researchers cautioned that the study was small and that more research should be conducted. The study's findings were presented at 2014 ASCO Annual Meeting, Chicago, IL.

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