"Researchers have found that young women with breast cancer were able to better preserve their fertility during cancer treatments by using hormone-blocking drug injections that put them into temporary menopause. The results announced today at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) in Chicago are from the Prevention of Early Menopause Study (POEMS), a clinical trial sponsored by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health (ASCO late breaking abstract #505). Women receiving the injections were only about one-third as likely to experience ovarian failure, a common long-term toxicity of chemotherapy treatments, and were more than twice as likely to have a normal pregnancy after their cancer treatment compared to women in the trial who did not receive the injections.
In POEMS, premenopausal women with hormone-receptor negative breast cancer ages 18 to 49 were randomly assigned to receive standard chemotherapy with or without goserelin every four weeks. Goserelin is a drug that disrupts the body’s hormonal feedback systems, resulting in reduced estrogen production, which puts the women into a chemical menopause. Under usual use, that chemical menopause is reversible; POEMS was carried out to see if the treatment allowed the women to recover fertility after cancer treatment while not interfering with the cancer treatment itself.
The researchers compared the ovarian failure rate of the women two years after entering the study and found that 22 percent of patients on the standard therapy had ovarian failure (15 of 69 patients) compared to 8 percent of those who also had goserelin treatment (5 of 66 patients). Of the 218 patients enrolled in the trial, 12 patients on the standard arm (11 percent) became pregnant vs 22 patients on the goserelin treatment arm (21 percent). "