The main issue is induction of menopause or premature ovarian failure after chemotherapy. The younger the woman is at the time of chemo, however, the more likely she is to recover her ovarian function and have a baby after chemotherapy. Even with permanent ovarian failure after chemo, we can still achieve excellent pregnancy rates using In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF) with an egg donor. As with any medical treatment, there are always risks and benefits- the essential issue to explore all the possibilities and come up with an individualized treatment plan to maximize success.
Hope this helps-please call if you would like to set up a time to discuss this further.
Daniel Levine, MD
Breast cancer is one of the most common cancer types affecting women and an increasing number of younger women are affected with this condition. Breast conservation treatment with lumpectomy generally require radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy depending on the stage of breast cancer.
In general, chemotherapy can cause a temporary decrease in ovarian function which leads to amenorrhea (skipping periods) and hot flashes. With time, periods can resume and many women are able to achieve pregnancy.
The more important questions is, "Was the original cancer sensitive to estrogen and/or progesterone (Estrogen receptor, progesterone receptor status) sensitive?" Because high levels of estrogen and progesterone occur during pregnancy, some studies indicate that any potential breast cancer cells can be stimulated during the pregnancy which means that if there is recurrent breast cancer, going through a pregnancy may worsen the health outcomes. One of the ways a woman might avoid this is to have a surrogate carry the pregnancy.
So to answer your question, breast cancer survivors can get pregnant without assistance if they have regular menses after treatment. Once they are pregnant, they can stay pregnant until term unless they are in the middle of treatment when they get pregnant. Breastfeeding is possible with lumpectomy although some of the ducts may be scarred from surgery. A woman with complete mastectomy in one breast will not be able to breastfeed from that breast. I hope this is helpful.
pregnancy, the short answer is yes. However, there are caveats and she
should have detailed conversations with her oncologist, ob/gyn and perhaps
a genetic counselor. I hope this helps.
Thank you and all the best.
Yes she can get pregnant as long as she has completed her therapy and is several months out ideally. The therapy should have no effect on her ability to stay pregnant. As far as breastfeeding, that would depend on the amount of breast tissue she has available and would be recommended that she tries.
If your sister has normal regular periods after chemo, there should be no issues getting pregnant. If her periods are not returning just yet, she should be patient and consider testing of her other hormones like thyroid and adrenal to see if they were affected by the chemo and stress. Both thyroid and adrenal health can affect ovarian hormones.
Once pregnant, your sister should have no issues staying pregnant. The chemo affects the ovary but once periods start, everything is back to normal.
As far as breast feeding after mastectomy - once the breast tissue is removed, there should be no possibility of breastfeeding from the mastectomy side, but the remaining breast should allow breastfeeding.
Best of health to your sister!