Expert Discusses Importance of Fertility Preservation in Breast Cancer


Ann H. Partridge, MD, MPH, talks about how fertility preservation can positively impact the psychosocial health in patients with breast cancer.

Preserving the ability of patients with breast cancer to have children and plan out their futures may serve as a “light at the end of the tunnel,” according to Ann H. Partridge, MD, MPH.

In an interview with CancerNetwork®, lead author Partridge spoke the rationale for the POSITIVE trial (NCT02308085),which assessed the feasibility of temporarily pausing endocrine therapy in patients with hormone receptor–positive breast cancer as a means of helping them attempt to conceive. She addressed how pregnancy in the breast cancer population can be “an emotional issue” that may impact their psychosocial health. Moreover, she discussed how her practice follows up with patients to help them plan for their pregnancy, even involving social workers where necessary.

Partridge is the vice chair of Medical Oncology, founder and director of the Program for Young Adults with Breast Cancer, director of the Adult Survivorship Program, Eric P. Winer, MD, chair in Breast Cancer Research at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.


We talk to people at diagnosis and early on. Our group and others have also shown data that it's not just an issue at diagnosis. The other thing that I need to do with my patients in order to help them plan for their futures is not only talk about a diagnosis but at follow up and talk with them about it particularly when they might be able to get pregnant if they want to, and make a plan with them. For many of them, that's kind of a light at the end of the tunnel.

Many of them are diagnosed in the [obstetrics] office because they were trying to get pregnant. They may have a first child, or they may want their kids not too far apart [in age]; there are all kinds of psychosocial [factors] that play into this. Their friends are all having babies and baby showers, which makes them cry every time they get an invitation, so it can really affect the psychosocial health of these young women and their families. I talk to them a lot about that, follow up, and bring in social work because it is a very emotional issue for many people.


Partridge AH, Niman SM, Ruggeri M, et al. Interrupting endocrine therapy to attempt pregnancy after breast cancer. N Engl J Med. 2023;388(18):1645-1656. doi:10.1056/NEJMoa2212856

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