Fertility hope for cancer patients

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Each year, nearly 49,000 women under age 50 are diagnosed with invasive breast cancer in the U.S. Nearly 11,000 of them are under age 40. Many of these women have dreams of starting a family. But toxic treatments like chemo can affect their fertility. Now there's a new drug on the horizon that could offer hope.

Stephanie Moisio had just married her best friend when doctors told her she had stage-two breast cancer.

"I couldn't even, I couldn't believe it," Stephanie Moisio told ABC30.

The 29-year-old needed surgery, chemo and radiation -- treatments that could jeopardize her chances of starting a family.

"So we came home, digested all of this and then we started thinking, oh my God, we're never going to have kids," said Moisio.

Stephanie chose to freeze her eggs and Cleveland Clinic Dr. Halle Moore offered her an additional option -- the injectable drug goserelin. It's a synthetic hormone that puts a woman's ovaries in a "resting" state.

"To basically put them in a temporary menopause during the chemotherapy treatment in the hopes of improving prospects for long-term ovarian function," Halle Moore, M.D., Medical Oncologist at Cleveland Clinic told ABC30.

In a study of 200 patients, 22 percent who received standard chemo had ovarian failure compared to only 8 percent who received goserelin and chemo. Only eight of the women who had standard chemo had successful pregnancies compared to 16 who took goserelin during chemotherapy.

Stephanie and her husband tried in-vitro, but it wasn't successful. One month later, she got pregnant on her own, and then again a few years later.

"Everybody kind of knows these girls shouldn't have really been here, and we were very, very blessed," Moisio explained.

Now she's cancer-free and enjoying every minute with her daughters.

"I never take for granted every single day," said Moisio.

Side effects of the drug include menopause-like symptoms such as hot flashes. The researchers also noticed that the patients who took goserelin were not only more likely to become pregnant -- they actually had better cancer outcomes. Researchers plan to explore this finding in future studies.

For more information on this report, please contact:

Andrea Pacetti
Cleveland Clinic Media Relations
216-444-8168 (desk)

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