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The Breast Cancer - Egg Freezing Connection
When diagnosed with breast cancer, fertility preservation usually isn't one of the first things that comes to mind; but for women younger than 40 it should be.
“Most breast cancer drugs will affect your fertility potential, basically because they're going to affect your ovaries and will deplete them of the eggs, so the sooner you seek consult, the better,” explains Dr. Mazen Abdallah of Houston Fertility Institute .
Dr. Abdallah has walked numerous cancer patients through the fertility preservation process, which essentially entails freezing your eggs, and in some cases embryos. He suggests that women should begin the process before starting chemo or radiotherapy.
The Fertility Preservation Process
“Usually, to preserve your fertility, you want to freeze either eggs or embryos. The way to get eggs or embryos frozen, we have to collect eggs from the ovary, and so we go through what we refer to as an IVF cycle , an in vitro fertilization,” Dr. Abdallah says. “The whole process takes between twelve to fourteen days from initiation of the treatment, of the medication, until egg collection.”
Day 1: This will be the first day of your menstrual cycle. On this day you will be begin taking medication to stimulate egg production and continue to take it daily for about two weeks. Routine sonograms, blood work and additional tests will also be performed during this two week span.
Day 12 - 14: Egg retrieval will likely take place during this two-day span.
If diagnosis comes mid- menstrual cycle, you will have to wait until the start of your next cycle.
Breast Cancer Treatment
“If you have a diagnosis of breast cancer, the mainstream treatment is still: you're diagnosed, you go to surgery, you recover for six weeks, and then you start chemotherapy,” says Dr. Abdallah. “The six weeks interval of recovery is ample time for us to do at least one egg collection cycle, and sometimes we can do two egg collection cycles, if need be.”