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The aggressive chemotherapy treatments many women endure as a breast cancer therapy have a host of unpleasant side effects. One that is especially significant to the 12 percent of patients under age 45 is the risk that the toxic drug cocktail could push them into early menopause, cheating them out of future children.
Cryopreservation, a procedure that freezes and stores eggs, embryos, or ovaries until the cancer is gone, can help give patients hope. These options, however, can be costly and time-consuming at a point when women are focused on fighting for their own survival.
Now, there is a new drug called triptorelin that suppresses ovarian function and could help breast cancer patients preserve their fertility at a lower cost while maintaining their cancer therapy.
An Italian study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association had patients take triptorelin, an injectable gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) analogue, a week prior to chemo and every month throughout treatment. Results showed that the rate of early menopause was 8.9 percent among the women who took triptorelin, compared with 25.9 percent in patients who did not.
â€śIn comparison with cryopreservation strategies, GnRH analogue-induced ovarian suppression has the advantages that it does not require a male partner, is simple to administer, does not require delaying chemotherapy, and is less invasive and less expensive,â€ť said Dr. Lucia Del Mastro, an oncologist at the National Institute for Cancer Research in Genoa, Italy.
The complete text of the study is available at The Journal of the American Medical Association website. For additional information about the treatment, review this Bloomberg article.
August 15, 2011