Preserving fertility in young women undergoing chemotherapy for early breast cancer; the Maastricht experience

Ingeborg J. H. Vriens*, Elena M. ter Welle-Butalid, Maaike de Boer, Christine E. M. de Die-Smulders, Josien G. Derhaag, Sandra M. E. Geurts, Irene E. G. van Hellemone, Ernest J. T. Luiten, M. Wouter Dercksen, Bea M. D. Lemaire, Els R. M. van Haaren, Birgit E. P. J. Vriens, Agnes J. van de Wouw, Anne-marie M. G. H. van Rie, Sandra L. E. Janssen-Engelen, Marlene H. W. van de Poel, Ester E. M. Schepers-van der Sterren, Ron J. T. van Golde, Vivianne C. G. Tjan-Heijnen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

12 Citations (Web of Science)


Purpose We assessed the uptake of fertility preservation (FP), recovery of ovarian function (OFR) after chemotherapy, live birth after breast cancer, and breast cancer outcomes in women with early-stage breast cancer. Methods Women aged below 41 years and referred to our center for FP counseling between 2008 and 2015 were included. Data on patient and tumor characteristics, ovarian function, cryopreservation (embryo/oocyte) and transfer, live birth, and disease-free survival were collected. Kaplan-Meier analyses were performed for time-to-event analyses including competing risk analyses, and patients with versus without FP were compared using the logrank test. Results Of 118 counseled women with a median age of 31 years (range 19-40), 34 (29%) chose FP. Women who chose FP had less often children, more often a male partner and more often favorable tumor characteristics. The 5-year OFR rate was 92% for the total group of counseled patients. In total, 26 women gave birth. The 5-year live birth rate was 27% for the total group of counseled patients. Only three women applied for transfer of their cryopreserved embryo(s), in two combined with preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) because of BRCA1-mutation carrier ship. The 5-year disease-free survival rate was 91% versus 88%, for patients with versus without FP (P = 0.42). Conclusions Remarkably, most women achieved OFR, probably related to the young age at diagnosis. Most pregnancies occurred spontaneously, two of three women applied for embryo transfer because of the opportunity to apply for PGD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-86
Number of pages10
JournalBreast Cancer Research and Treatment
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - May 2020


  • Fertility preservation
  • Breast cancer
  • Chemotherapy
  • Endocrine therapy
  • Ovarian function
  • Desire to have children

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