Does breast cancer prevent having children?

Cancer, which causes life-threatening risks and is one of the most common diseases in the world, can be a source of concern for people who dream of parenthood. Explaining step by step what cancer patients should pay attention to during the process of having children, Gynecologic Oncology Surgery Specialist Prof. Dr. Ateş Karateke gave information about the process during and after the treatment.

Pointing out that breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in women and that one in every 8 women in our country is diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime, Gynecological Oncology Surgery Specialist Prof. Dr. Ateş Karateke warned people who dream of motherhood and fatherhood. Underlining that women who have been treated for breast cancer and want to have children should wait for the treatment to be completed, Prof. Dr. Ateş Karateke stated that patients should definitely discuss this issue with their doctors before getting pregnant.

“Contraceptive methods should be applied during the treatment period”

Reminding that there are changes in the menstrual cycle and fertility problems in breast cancer cases receiving chemotherapy, Prof. said that contraceptive methods should be applied. Prof. Dr. Ateş Karateke said, “In general, in cases younger than 35 years of age, the menstrual cycle will return within 2 years; But these results may be very different in cases older than 35 years of age. Additionally, patients using tamoxifen may experience changes in their menstrual cycle and hot flashes. Tamoxifen use does not impair fertility and may even increase it, but the use of this drug during pregnancy is not accepted and is harmful to the baby. For this reason, non-hormonal methods to prevent pregnancy in young cases under treatment; In other words, it would be appropriate to connect or remove condoms, coils or tubes.”

“Pregnancy can be allowed 2 years after treatment”

“If the patient with breast cancer wants to continue her fertility; egg or embryo freezing methods should be explained to the patient,” said and Prof. Dr. Ateş Karateke warned, “If a patient with breast cancer becomes pregnant within 6 months after treatment, the course of the disease will be bad. For this reason, in cases who want to become pregnant, pregnancy can be allowed after 2 years of disease-free period after treatment.”

Post-illness depressive disorders increase 4-fold

Professor said that the psychological process should also be addressed, stating that serious depressive disorders are 4 times more common in cases after cancer treatment than in healthy women, even if the disease has been defeated. Prof. Dr. Ateş Karateke said, “Physicians who follow up the cases are not aware of the presence of depression in more than half of these cases. However, these problems deteriorate the quality of life, hinder the workforce and cause increased health expenditures. We know that as anxiety and depressive disorders increase, oncological outcomes also worsen.”

“It is important to investigate depression and anxiety disorders.”

Noting that it should not be forgotten that when depression is dealt with, both the quality of life will increase and the life expectancy will be extended, Prof. Dr. Karateke continued his statement with the following statements,

“It is important to investigate depression and anxiety disorders in cases who have overcome cancer and successfully completed the difficult and long treatment process. In the presence of such a situation, psychiatric consultation should be made. When using antidepressants, it should be kept in mind that these drugs may interact with tamoxifen. In cases using tamoxifen, the molecule called venlafaxine should be preferred. Because venlafaxine has minimal effects on tamoxifen metabolism, is as effective as other antidepressants, and can also reduce hot flashes, which are common in patients on treatment.”

“Problems that negatively affect sexual life need to be treated”

“During this period, we see a decrease in sexual desire in many of our patients. This situation is less severe in cases with partial mastectomy, whose body image is less distorted. Weakness and decreased sexual desire will disappear 2 years after the end of treatment. Treatment-related menopausal symptoms occur in most patients. In particular, problems that negatively affect sexual life, such as vaginal dryness, need to be treated.

Psychological and sexual difficulties are more common in cases that have disagreements with their spouses or partners. Mental and sexual disorders and treatment-related side effects will be more common in cases with ongoing problematic relationships before and during diagnosis and treatment. The close circle of the patients is of great importance in the success of the treatment and a smooth process. Psychiatric consultations are recommended for cases who cannot receive sufficient support from their spouses and their environment.”


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