Women who survived cancer were 38% less likely to become pregnant as compared to their healthy counterparts, says a new study. The research findings also emphasised on the need for better access to fertility preservation in girls and young women. The detrimental effect on fertility was evident in almost all types of cancer diagnosed, the study showed.
The findings showed that for women who had not been pregnant before their cancer diagnosis, 20.6% of the cancer survivors achieved a first pregnancy after diagnosis, compared with 38.7% in the control group.
Thus, women with cancer were about half as likely to achieve a first pregnancy.
“This analysis provides evidence of the effect of cancer and its treatment on subsequent pregnancy across the full reproductive age range,” said Richard Anderson, Professor at the University of Edinburgh.
Chemotherapy and radiotherapy — treatments for cancers — are known to affect fertility as some can cause damage to the ovary, uterus and potentially affect those brain centres which control the reproductive axis.
The results were presented at the Annual Meeting of European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE) in Geneva.
For the study, the team included 23,201 female cancer survivors in girls and women aged 39 or under.
With rates of cancer survival increasing in both young male and females, fertility preservation ahead of treatment has an increasing role to play in fertility clinics, the researchers suggested.
“The major impact on pregnancy after some common cancers highlights the need for enhanced strategies to preserve fertility in girls and young women,” Anderson noted.