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 Finding clinical trials for young women with breast cancer
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Finding clinical trials for young women with breast cancer - Monday, August 05, 2013 4:31 PM
 
We now offer information in Understanding Breast Cancer section of komen.org about clinical trials specifically for young breast cancer survivors, including clinical trials for fertility preservation. Please visit the link below for more information.
 
http://ww5.komen.org/BreastCancer/YoungWomenandBreastCancer.html

Finding clinical trials for young women with breast cancer BreastCancerTrials.org in collaboration with Susan G. Komen® offers a custom matching service. (Learn more about this program.) This matching service can help you find a clinical trial recruiting young women with breast cancer or a clinical trial for fertility preservation. You can also visit the National Institutes of Health's website to find a clinical trial.  
Learn more about clinical trials.    
Breast cancer treatment and fertility A main concern for young women being treated for breast cancer is loss of fertility. Both chemotherapy and tamoxifen can damage the ovaries, causing irregular periods or stopping periods altogether.  
With tamoxifen, regular periods should return after treatment ends. However, even in women whose periods return, treatment can shorten the window of time to have children. Because of the danger of birth defects, women should not become pregnant while taking tamoxifen (generally given for five years) [29,100]. Over this treatment time, natural fertility may have begun to decline.  
With chemotherapy, it is more likely the loss of periods will be permanent. (Certain chemotherapy combinations are less likely to cause permanent menopause than others.) Women younger than 40 at the time of treatment are more likely than older women to have their periods return after chemotherapy. The risk of permanent menopause slowly increases with age.  
Both tamoxifen and chemotherapy tend to bring on natural menopause three to five years earlier than normal [29]. This further limits time for pregnancy and childbirth.
Preserving fertility during breast cancer treatment Storing embryos There are steps you can take before treatment begins to help preserve your childbearing options. Storing embryos before treatment is one option. In this procedure, eggs are collected over a number of menstrual cycles, fertilized and frozen. After treatment, the embryos can be thawed and implanted into the uterus.  
This procedure has a good rate of success, but it also has some down sides. Treatment may be delayed while eggs are collected, and a sperm donor is needed to fertilize the eggs before they are stored [29,148].  
Unfertilized eggs (which do not require a sperm donor) can also be frozen and stored. However, this method is much less likely to result in pregnancy compared to storing fertilized eggs and is still considered experimental [149].  
Protecting the ovaries during treatment Chemotherapy attacks fast-growing cells. These include not only cancer cells but also cells in other parts of the body, like the ovaries. Drugs like goserelin (Zoladex), leuprolide (Lupron) and triptorelin can shut down the ovaries during chemotherapy, which may protect them from damage and lower the chances of early menopause [150].  
More studies are needed to know if these drugs truly protect the ovaries and speed a return to regular periods. It is also unclear if these drugs affect prognosis.
Talking with a fertility specialist If you wish to have a child after treatment, talk to your health care provider (and if possible, a fertility specialist) before making treatment decisions and discuss your options. Meeting with a fertility specialist as early as possible (before surgery) offers the widest range of options.
Clinical trials for fertility preservation Research is ongoing to improve fertility preservation. New methods are being studied in clinical trials. After discussing the benefits and risks with your health care provider (and if possible, a fertility specialist), you may want to consider joining a clinical trial on fertility preservation.
BreastCancerTrials.org in collaboration with Susan G. Komen® offers a custom matching service that can help you find a clinical trial for fertility preservation. You can also visit theNational Institutes of Health's website to find a clinical trial.

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