Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Cancer Health Center

Font Size

Pregnancy and Chemo a Risky Combo

WebMD Health News

March 28, 2001 -- Women who develop cancer are often faced with the possibility of being left unable to bear children as a result of chemotherapy-induced infertility. One option is to undergo an in vitro fertilization procedure, or IVF, to have some eggs removed and embryos created and frozen before starting chemotherapy. The embryos can then be implanted after cancer treatments are finished.

This option has been used successfully for several years, and healthy babies have been born to women who otherwise might not have been able to conceive.

Despite this, some doctors are allowing women to undergo IVF after exposure to chemotherapeutic drugs, such as during breaks in the chemotherapy cycle or once they've gone into remission after receiving certain types of chemotherapy not thought to cause infertility.

However, a new report from researchers in Israel, the U.K., and Canada suggests this approach is risky and can increase the risk for genetic damage in the offspring. The report, which appears in the March 29 issue of the journal Human Reproduction, involved groups of mice exposed to cyclophosphamide, a widely used chemotherapeutic and immunosuppressive drug.

"To date, there isn't any epidemiological data suggesting that former cancer patients who received high doses of chemotherapy are at greater risk for producing babies which have any defects," says Roger G. Gosden, MD, one of the co-authors of the report. "However, the techniques that we can now apply to looking for genetic damage are much greater and our study ... indicates that we should be alert to the possibility [of such damage]. And if it is a real hazard, then we have to consider more seriously the idea of protecting the patient's [eggs] prior to chemotherapy.

"I don't want to be alarmist about this," he tells WebMD, "but I think these sorts of studies should signal to the research community to keep a close eye on children of former cancer patients. We can't always extrapolate from animal studies to humans, but the stakes are really quite high because there are more and more patients who are receiving very high-dose treatment and surviving the treatment and wanting to have a family afterward."

Today on WebMD

Colorectal cancer cells
New! I AM Not Cancer Facebook Group
Lung cancer xray
See it in pictures, plus read the facts.
sauteed cherry tomatoes
Fight cancer one plate at a time.
Ovarian cancer illustration
Real Cancer Perspectives
Jennifer Goodman Linn self-portrait
what is your cancer risk
colorectal cancer treatment advances
breast cancer overview slideshow
prostate cancer overview
lung cancer overview slideshow
ovarian cancer overview slideshow
Actor Michael Douglas