A new study has shown that monthly injections of the drug goserelin can preserve the fertility of women undergoing chemotherapy.
The study involved data from over 200 women with breast cancer. It found that 8 percent of the women who took the drug were in menopause two years later, compared to the much higher 22 percent of women who did not take goserelin.
Goserelin actually causes a temporary menopause by disrupting hormonal communication and putting the ovaries into a type of hibernation. However, Kelly-Anne Phillips, who is the co-chair of the study, said that goserelin can ultimately help protect women against permanent, early menopause.
Currently, it is standard procedure for women to preserve their eggs or embryos before undergoing treatment. However, Philips, who is also an oncologist at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, said that this can be unreliable. Some women cannot produce eggs in a single cycle before undergoing chemotherapy, making it impossible for them to store their eggs.
“For women concerned about fertility preservation, it will still be important to see a fertility expert promptly before chemotherapy to store eggs, but in addition you would have the goserelin in the hope you maintain your pre-menopausal status,” Philips said.
Taking goserelin does not only apply to older women, but to younger women as well. Preventing early menopause is important, even if a woman does not want to have children or already has children. Early menopause can enhance the risk for number of long-term health problems, including osteoporosis.
One woman who took part in the trial did not think she would want kids after the chemotherapy. Nicole Glazner was diagnosed with breast cancer at the young age of 26, and chose not to store her eggs before undergoing treatment. But, after a successful treatment, Nicole changed her mind had a daughter, Ruby, a few years later.
Now, Nicole hopes her story can serve as an inspiration to women undergoing chemotherapy.
“We are so lucky to have Ruby, she said. ” I hope it does show other people that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.”