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Breast Cancer Drug Tamoxifen: Can It Cause Infertility?

Summary: Is there a way to preserve fertility while on this drug?
Air Date: 10/9/15
Duration: 10
Host: Leigh Vinocur, MD
Guest Bio: Jacqueline Jeruss, MD, PhD
Jacqueline Jeruss Dr. Jacqueline Jeruss is an Associate Professor in the Division of Surgical Oncology, Section of General Surgery in the Department of Surgery at the University of Michigan. Dr. Jeruss also holds appointments in the Departments of Pathology and Biomedical Engineering. Dr. Jeruss received her undergraduate degree in neuroscience and history from Brandeis University and her medical degree from the University of Vermont.

Dr. Jeruss completed her General Surgery residency training at Northwestern University Medical School and she also holds a PhD from Northwestern, having done her dissertation in the field of breast cancer biology. She completed her fellowship in Breast Surgical Oncology at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in 2006, and then returned to Northwestern where she reached the rank of Associate Professor of Surgery in the Division of Breast Surgery before moving to Michigan in 2014.

Dr. Jeruss' clinical and basic research interests are focused on novel therapeutics for aggressive breast cancer subtypes, new approaches to manage cancer metastasis, incorporation of fertility preservation into the care of young patients with cancer, and surgical ethics. Her research program is funded by the National Institute of Health and several foundations including the Society of Surgical Oncology and A Sister's Hope. She is a member of several professional societies, has published numerous manuscripts and book chapters, and has also received many awards for teaching and research.
Breast Cancer Drug Tamoxifen: Can It Cause Infertility?
Tamoxifen is an estrogen receptor that's used to treat and prevent certain types of breast cancer.

If you've been prescribed Tamoxifen, you have to take it for five years in order to help prevent the cancer from spreading.

Like any medicine, Tamoxifen comes with a list of side effects, including anxiety, blurred vision, chest pain, cataracts, chills, cough, fever, pain or swelling in your legs, shortness of breath, menstrual changes, weight gain or loss, and many more.

Since it is an estrogen receptor, many women who currently have or previously had breast cancer are worried about their fertility.

In fact, according to a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 30 percent of the 515 patients interviewed refused to take tamoxifen or stopped taking it because of fertility concerns.

Can Tamoxifen cause infertility?

Jacqueline Jeruss, MD, PhD, joins Dr. Leigh to discuss the study on Tamoxifen, and whether or not it can mess with your fertility.