Drug Helps Protect Ovaries from Chemotherapy

The GnRH agonist goserelin, when given during chemotherapy, may protect against ovarian failure and early menopause in women with breast cancer.


Breast cancer patients who are given goserelin during chemotherapy were more likely to have successful pregnancies and are less likely to experience ovarian failure, a recent study found.

The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, confirmed previous findings that suggested giving the hormone-blocking drug during chemotherapy protects ovarian function.

Researchers noted that while they were missing some data from the study, the results still showed that goserelin with chemotherapy appeared to protect fertility and reduce the chances of early menopause. Still, the missing data weakened the interpretation of the findings, the authors said.

The study included 218 premenopausal women with early-stage hormone-receptor-negative breast cancer diagnosed from 2004 to 2011. The women all received standard chemotherapy, with 105 randomized to receive goserelin every 4 weeks for the duration of treatment.

Among the women who received goserelin during chemotherapy, 8% experienced ovarian failure 2 years after treatment, compared with 22% in the control group. And among the goserelin group, 21% of women became pregnant within the first 5 years after chemotherapy, compared with only 11% in the control group.

The authors suggest that co-administration of goserelin with chemotherapy may be a more accessible option for women facing a breast cancer diagnosis than the current process of embryo cryopreservation. The drug could be used in conjunction with the more traditional fertility-preservation techniques, the authors wrote.

The study only included patients with ER-negative disease and, therefore, did not address the use of goserelin for women with ER-positive breast cancer.


Key Points

- The GnRH agonist goserelin given in conjunction with chemotherapy for women undergoing treatment for ER-negative breast cancer can help protect fertility.

- Women who were given goserelin throughout chemotherapy were less likely to experience ovarian failure and early menopause and more likely to become pregnant within 5 years after treatment than women who didn't take goserelin.

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