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Menopause. 2011 Jan;18(1):105-8.

Menopausal symptoms and fertility concerns in premenopausal breast cancer survivors: a comparison to age- and gravidity-matched controls.

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Medical Oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, MA, USA.



Many young breast cancer survivors experience menopausal symptoms and feel concerned about infertility due to oncologic treatment. However, there has been little research to date comparing young survivors’ concerns and symptoms with those of young women of the same age and gravidity in the general population.


We surveyed breast cancer survivors with regular menses after adjuvant chemotherapy and compared them with age-matched, gravidity-matched controls as part of a study to evaluate the effects of chemotherapy on ovarian reserve. All survivors were 1 year or more from diagnosis of early-stage breast cancer, without evidence of recurrence. The survey assessed menopausal symptoms and infertility concerns.


The study was stopped after a planned interim analysis of the first 20 matched pairs revealed significantly diminished measures of ovarian reserve in survivors compared with controls. Mean age was 37 years for both groups(range, 31-43 y). Eighty percent of survivors and 25% of controls expressed some concern regarding fertility at the time of the survey (P = 0.001). Survivors were more likely to report bothersome menopausal symptoms than were controls (P = 0.05). An exploratory analysis revealed that menopausal symptoms were greatest in the survivor staking tamoxifen.


Young women who remained premenopausal after breast cancer chemotherapy expressed greater concern about fertility and reported more menopausal symptoms than did age- and gravidity-matched controls. This may have been due to cancer diagnosis or treatment, or it may reflect other differences between the survivors and controls in this study. Additional research is warranted to determine how to most effectively address fertility concerns and reduce symptom burden in this population.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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