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Factors Affecting Fertility Preservation: A New Study

A recent paper by Oncofertility Consortium trainee, Jayeon Kim, MD, indicates that certain women are more likely to undergo fertility preservation prior to cancer treatment than others. The authors, Jayeon Kim, Kutluk Oktay, Clarisa Gracia, Sanghoon Lee, Christopher Morse, and Jennifer E. Mersereau, found that women were more likely to under go embryo or egg banking if they were wealthier, thinner (lower BMI), had less-advanced disease, and did not undergo neoadjuvant treatment prior to surgery.

In the paper, “Which patients pursue fertility preservation treatments? A multicenter analysis of the predictors of fertility preservation in women with breast cancer,” the authors examined demographic and clinical information of women diagnosed with breast cancer at three centers around the United States. While previous studies have asked which factors affect the likelihood that a woman will be referred for a fertility preservation consultation, this one evaluated which women are most likely to undergo fertility preservation treatment after that initial consult.

Of the four factors that positively correlated with undergoing fertility preservation treatment, only one of them is modifiable in the short time after a cancer diagnosis. Neoadjuvant therapy includes chemotherapy, radiation, and hormonal treatments prior to surgery. It is often given to patients with more advanced disease and those with a shorter time period between diagnosis and the onset of treatment, which may prevent time for the hormonal stimulation of the ovaries required for embryo and egg banking. One option for these women may be ovarian tissue cryopreservation, an experimental fertility preservation technique that does not require two weeks of hormonal stimulation.

Of the 185 women in the study published in Fertility and Sterility, more than half of them underwent fertility preservation treatment from 2005 to 2010. In addition to the factors that positively correlated with treatment other factors are equally interesting. The authors found that age, having children previously, and presence of a partner or spouse did not affect fertility preservation treatments. Interestingly, insurance coverage status also did not have an effect, possibly because insurance coverage for fertility preservation is inconsistent.

This significant work can help oncofertility specialists better care for their patients in the future. As one of the mission’s of the Oncofertility Consortium is to train the next generation of experts in cancer and fertility, we are proud of the research that Dr. Kim has performed. Read more about the oncofertility training program.


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