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In many cases, the treatment for breast cancer, such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy, can affect a woman’s reproductive system, and, as a result, her fertility.

Chemotherapy drugs attack cancer cells, but they can also kill rapidly dividing healthy cells too, such as the ones involved in the production of eggs. The type of chemotherapy drugs used, the length of treatment, and a woman’s age at the time of treatment can influence how much fertility is affected. The effect of chemotherapy on fertility can be temporary or permanent.

Radiation therapy is less likely to affect fertility because the high-energy rays are usually focused on an area away from the reproductive organs. If cancer has spread and radiation is used near the pelvic area, however, the beams can pass through and affect healthy tissues, which can lead to temporary or permanent infertility.

Most providers recommend waiting at least two years after breast cancer treatment before trying to get pregnant. Be sure to discuss your concerns with your healthcare team before you begin breast cancer treatment.