Published: 06-11-2017 14:24 | Updated: 08-11-2017 10:02

Fertility preservation with hormone stimulation did not increase risk of breast cancer relapse

Women who received hormone stimulation for fertility preservation did not have a higher relapse rate in breast cancer compared with unexposed control women in a study from Karolinska Institutet published in Breast Cancer Research and Treatment. The results could influence the clinical practice for young cancer patients wishing to pursue fertility preservation.

Women presenting with breast cancer are often excluded from programmes for fertility preservation due to a fear that the hormonal stimulation treatments required to retrieve eggs/embryos for cryopreservation might increase the risk of relapse.

Because breast cancer is the most common malignancy in women, researchers at Karolinska Institutet conducted a study to investigate the safety of fertility preservation in 188 women with breast cancer who had undergone hormonal treatment from 1999–2013 in the Stockholm healthcare region. The control group of 378 women comprised data retrieved from the Regional Breast Cancer Register. Data linkage to the register allowed the researchers to follow-up the progress of both the exposed women, who underwent fertility preservation treatment, and the unexposed matched controls, who did not receive fertility preservation treatment, over the same period.

A primary quality of survival issue

The study findings reveal that women who received hormone stimulation did not present with a higher relapse rate than unexposed control women. The results remained virtually unchanged after adjustment for age and calendar period of diagnosis, tumour size, oestrogen receptor status, affected lymph nodes and chemotherapy treatment.

“Our work could potentially influence medical care and clinical practice to the benefit of young cancer patients wishing to pursue fertility preservation options”, says the responsible researcher, Kenny Rodriguez-Wallberg, at the Department of Oncology-Pathology, Karolinska Institutet. “Having a chance to build a future family after surviving cancer is currently recognized as a primary quality of survival issue for young people with cancer”.

The work was supported by grants from The Swedish Research Council, the Swedish Society for Medical Research, the Swedish Society of Medicine, the Swedish Cancer Society, Radiumhemmet’s research grants, Stockholm County Council (ALF) and the Karolinska Institutet. Dr Rodriguez-Wallberg is supported by a Clinical Investigator Grant from Stockholm County Council.


“Safety of fertility preservation in breast cancer patients in a register-based matched cohort study”
Rodriguez-Wallberg KA, Eloranta S, Krawiec K, Lissmats A, Bergh J, Liljegren A.
Breast Cancer Research and Treatment, online 2 November 2017