being a mother after chemotherapy thanks to preventive oocyte retrieval

being a mother after chemotherapy thanks to preventive oocyte retrieval

In young women, breast cancer is more aggressive and chemotherapy can stop egg production. To overcome this infertility, it is possible to collect oocytes before the start of treatment to allow a subsequent pregnancy. We are talking about oncofertility.

Angélique Duprey was 33 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. The fertility preservation center of the CHU of Saint-Etienne then offered her an oocyte retrieval and the preservation of 7 embryos before starting the treatment protocol.
This precaution is a glimmer of hope for many young patients, the hope of a baby today within Angélique’s reach, after 6 years of treatment, including 5 of hormone therapy and the green light from her oncologist.

Screening and palpation have entered the routine of the health course, so logically, the number of breast cancer diagnoses is on the rise, but oocyte retrieval and embryo preservation for patients of childbearing age are not, however, an automatism, specifies Professor Céline Chauleur, head of the gynecology-obstetrics department of the CHU of Saint-Etienne.

The announcement of the risk of the loss of my fertility, I experienced it as a second blow even more important, more serious than the announcement of my cancer.

If the proportion of breast cancer risk is 1 in 8 women after 50, it drops to 20 for women aged 40. Without generalizing, the professor recognizes that cancers in young women are more aggressive. “In the treatments that the patients will receive, there will of course be surgery, often radiation, possibly hormones, but very often since these are more aggressive tumors, the treatment will require chemotherapy“.

As long as I had not preserved my fertility, I could not start my chemotherapy serenely.

The latter will have the effect of blocking ovulation in patients and putting them – temporarily – in a status of menopause. “Any possibility of pregnancy is not possible and therefore these are things that we must imagine, in any case reflect and discuss before“. Women can return to menstruation within two years after treatment, but sometimes it takes longer and sometimes it doesn’t. For patients over 35, it’s a safe proposition. is now systematic at the fertility preservation center of Saint-Etienne University Hospital.Before, women had every chance of regaining their fertility, but all cases are studied by the medical team in agreement with the patient.

Before any chemotherapy,to preserve their fertility (what is called oncofertility), a system is therefore set up to preserve their oocytes. The oocytes are frozen or if the patient is in a relationship, we even try to freeze embryos“, explains Professor Céline Chauleur.
For cases where the treatment is very urgent, a single cycle may be sufficient to obtain the sufficient number of oocytes.

Angélique hasn’t decided if she wants children, but she is very active in the “Jeunes et rose” collective. She shares her experience and raises awareness among young women and the medical profession about the risk of breast cancer. She explains the simple gestures of self-examination and invites you to know your body to detect the signs of the disease.

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