New hope for the future fertility of women undergoing breast cancer treatment

Results of a new clinical trial suggest that goserelin, a well-established hormonal drug commonly used to treat endometriosis, significantly reduces the risk of early menopause for women who are undergoing treatment for breast cancer and increases their likelihood of pregnancy. Goserelin is a hormone similar to the one normally released by the hypothalamus gland in the brain. It temporarily shuts down the ovaries and reduces the amount of estrogen in the body.

Researchers in the UK studied more than 250 premenopausal women under age 50 who had early stage breast cancer and were undergoing treatment. Half of the group received standard chemotherapy, and half of the group received chemotherapy and goserelin. After two years, 45% of the women receiving standard chemotherapy had stopped menstruating or had high levels of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), which indicated that their fertility was compromised. In contrast, only 20% of the women taking goserelin had stopped menstruating. In addition, at 21% the pregnancy rate was nearly twice as high in the goserelin group than in the standard chemotherapy group (11%).

Given the concerns about the negative impact of life-saving cancer treatment on women’s fertility, goserelin may provide hope for women who wish to conceive a child after going through cancer treatment. According to researcher Dr. Kathy Albain, the results suggest that goserelin is a promising adjunct to cancer treatment with additional benefits:

“In addition to reducing the risk of early menopause, and all of the symptoms that go along with menopause, goserelin was very safe and may even improve survival.”

Read more about cancer and fertility here, here, here, and here.

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