Fertility options in young breast cancer survivors: a review of the literature

Oncol Nurs Forum. 2004 May 12;31(3):E46-53. doi: 10.1188/04.ONF.E46-E53. Print 2004 May.


Purpose/objectives: To describe the impact of treatment on fertility, discuss fertility-sparing options available for women with breast cancer, and explore pregnancy subsequent to breast cancer.

Data sources: Published research, clinical articles, book chapters, and abstracts.

Data synthesis: The risk of amenorrhea associated with alkylating agents in breast cancer survivors is well known. Fertility-sparing options before, during, and after treatment are possible with the use of assistive reproductive technology. Young breast cancer survivors are concerned about stimulating recurrence with subsequent pregnancy, health during pregnancy, and family matters.

Conclusions: Current data about the effects of treatment on amenorrhea, subsequent pregnancy after treatment, preservation of ovarian function during adjuvant therapy, and management of ovarian failure in young women with breast cancer are important to include in discussions and counseling.

Implications for nursing: Young women deserve a thoughtful discussion about their concerns among their multidisciplinary team, including oncology nurses, oncologists, and social workers. Effects of treatment on fertility are well known. Women with fertility concerns should be referred to a reproductive endocrinology team at the time of diagnosis rather than after treatment has ended.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Amenorrhea / chemically induced
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / adverse effects*
  • Breast Neoplasms / complications*
  • Breast Neoplasms / nursing
  • Breast Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Counseling / methods*
  • Cryopreservation / methods
  • Cyclophosphamide / administration & dosage
  • Cyclophosphamide / adverse effects
  • Embryo Transfer
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infertility, Female / etiology
  • Infertility, Female / nursing*
  • Infertility, Female / prevention & control*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome
  • Radiotherapy / adverse effects
  • Risk Factors


  • Cyclophosphamide