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HealthWatch: Therapy May Protect Ovaries From Chemotherapy

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Computerized mammography.

Computerized mammography.

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS 5) – Young women diagnosed with breast cancer may be able to avoid a common complication of the treatment, early menopause.

About 12% of all new breast cancers occur in younger women. A new study suggests how an additional chemical therapy may protect those who are undergoing chemotherapy.

The treatment can damage otherwise healthy ovaries, and throw the patient into early menopause and, that can impact her fertility.

“You want to survive generally so you’re going to do the treatment but you don’t want that treatment to close the door for that something you’ve always dreamed of is no longer an option” said breast cancer specialist Dr. Hope Rugo, with UCSF Medical Center.

Now a new report suggests that a therapy used to suppress the ovaries may actually end up protecting them as well.

Young breast cancer patients given triptorelin – a synthetic hormone – while receiving chemotherapy were less likely to experience early menopause.

Dr. Rugo said these findings are a step in the right direction.

However, she cautioned that having a period is not the same as being fertile.

At this time, before a young female undergoes chemotherapy, Dr. Rugo suggests a different tactic.

“Right now your best bet is to see a fertility expert with assisted reproductive technology methods like harvesting eggs freezing embryos that kind of things to hedge your bets,” said Dr. Rugo.

Dr. Rugo also said that based on the data, that this therapy may be an option for a select group of women – those who have hormone negative breast cancer.

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