Breast cancer is the most common malignancy in women, and its incidence increases with age, with the majority of patients diagnosed after menopause. However, in 15–25% of cases, patients are premenopausal at the time of diagnosis, and about 7% of them are below the age of 40. Therefore, a considerable amount of young women are diagnosed with breast cancer during their reproductive life. Within this group, most cancer cases require cytotoxic chemotherapy and/or hormone therapy, which are responsible for a decrease in the patients’ reproductive function, along with their age. The efficacy of such treatments, among other factors, has led to a high five-year-survival rate, which results in an increasing number of young women who survive breast cancer before having fulfilled their reproductive wishes, especially considering the current trend to delay pregnancy until the late 30s or early 40s in developed countries. The combination of these factors justifies the importance of fertility preservation and reproductive counselling at the time of breast cancer diagnosis in young women.
A wide range of fertility preservation techniques has been developed, such as ovarian suppression, oocyte and embryo cryopreservation, immature oocyte retrieval and in vitro maturation, and ovarian tissue cryopreservation.
Early counselling and referral of these patients to fertility specialists are fundamental factors in order to maximise their chances of pregnancy. This review aims to update the knowledge about the influence of breast cancer in fertility, the influence of pregnancy and fertility preservation techniques in breast cancer patients and assessment of ovarian reserve for a better treatment choice. A special section dedicated to BRCA-mutation carriers has been included because of their specific features.
A comprehensive literature search has been conducted, including publications from the last five years.