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Pregnancy rates lower in cancer survivors than general population, study finds

Study suggests that fewer than one in 15 premenopausal women will preserve their fertility following breast cancer treatment.

Study suggests that fewer than one in 15 premenopausal women will preserve their fertility following breast cancer treatment.

The compounded risk and consequences of unfavourable and undesirable effects on the reproductive potential of female survivors following breast cancer treatment, and the options possible for preserving fertility prior to commencing treatment, need to be more clearly explained to patients.

This meta-analysis of papers published between 1995 and 2015, which reported reproductive outcomes following treatment for breast cancer, comprised 16 case-control and matched cohort studies, with an overall sample of 1,287 participants.

The findings of the analyses suggested that the pregnancy rates for women living with and beyond breast cancer were, on average, 40% lower when contrasted with general population pregnancy rates. The literature suggested that fewer

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Study suggests that fewer than one in 15 premenopausal women will preserve their fertility following breast cancer treatment.

The compounded risk and consequences of unfavourable and undesirable effects on the reproductive potential of female survivors following breast cancer treatment, and the options possible for preserving fertility prior to commencing treatment, need to be more clearly explained to patients.


Pregnancy rates and women preservng fertility were lower in patients following breast cancer treatment
Picture: Science Photo Library

This meta-analysis of papers published between 1995 and 2015, which reported reproductive outcomes following treatment for breast cancer, comprised 16 case-control and matched cohort studies, with an overall sample of 1,287 participants.

The findings of the analyses suggested that the pregnancy rates for women living with and beyond breast cancer were, on average, 40% lower when contrasted with general population pregnancy rates. The literature suggested that fewer than one in 15 premenopausal women will preserve their fertility, and fewer than one in 20 are able to conceive following treatment for breast cancer.

The pregnancy rates in women who underwent mastectomy were found to be lower than in those women who received breast conserving treatment measures. The results of two matched cohort studies revealed reduced rates of pregnancy following either type of surgical intervention and the receipt of adjuvant chemotherapy. The oestrogen receptor status of the women had a notably adverse effect on outcomes.

Women whose cancer was oestrogen receptor positive were four times more likely to conceive compared with those women who had hormone negative tumours. However, the investigators recognise this might be ascribed to women taking the recommended treatment of Tamoxifen for five to ten years, who are advised not to get pregnant while on this treatment.


Gerstl B, Sullivan E, Ives A et al (2017) Pregnancy outcomes after a breast cancer diagnosis: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Clinical Breast Cancer. doi: 10.1016/j.clbc.2017.06.016

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