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Does Fertility Treatment Raise Breast Cancer Risk?

Breast Cancer Diagnosis for Giuliana Rancic Raises Questions About In Vitro Fertilization
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Is it common for fertility doctors to recommend a mammogram before a woman undergoes IVF?

Any woman who is trying to get pregnant should be following the regular guidelines for health maintenance. "You want to make sure the Pap smears are up to date and that any routine screening has been done," Pfeifer says. "We follow the established guidelines of mammograms starting at age 40 for women who don't have significant risk factors."

The guidelines about when to start screening mammograms are also controversial.

Is fertility treatment an option for breast cancer survivors?

"It can be an option, but it depends on several factors," says Eric Widra, MD, who chairs the practice committee for the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technologies.

These factors include a woman's age at the time of treatment because fertility naturally decreases over time, and most oncologists recommend a woman be cancer-free for around five years before trying to get pregnant.  Future pregnancy also depends on the damage chemotherapy may have done to a women's reproductive system. It is ideal to see a fertility specialist before beginning cancer treatment rather than after.

"What we often do for our patients, especially if they are over 30, is consider fertility preservation before they go through chemo," Litton tells WebMD, "by retrieving eggs and freezing the eggs or embryos. Freezing embryos is the standard. Freezing eggs is still considered experimental."

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