Walking the tightrope: Fertility preservation among hereditary breast and ovarian Cancer syndrome Previvors

Sharonne Holtzman, Lily McCarthy, Samantha L. Estevez, Joseph A. Lee, Morgan F. Baird, Dmitry Gounko, Alan B. Copperman, Stephanie V. Blank

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Fertility-related concerns cause significant anxiety among patients with Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer Syndrome (HBOC). The Society of Gynecologic Oncology and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine recommend patients diagnosed with HBOC receive early referral to a reproductive endocrinologist. However, evidence about fertility trends in this patient population are limited and guidelines are scarce. The aim of this study is to compare fertility preservation among patients with HBOC to control patients undergoing fertility treatment without a diagnosis of infertility. Methods: This retrospective study included patients who presented to a single academic institution for fertility preservation in the setting of diagnosis of HBOC. In this study, HBOC patients are referred to as those who had tested positive for pathogenic mutations in BRCA1, BRCA2 or were at high-risk for HBOC based on a strong family history (defined as >3 family members diagnosed with HBOC) without a genetic mutation. HBOC patients were matched in a 1:1 fashion to a control group undergoing fertility preservation without a diagnosis of infertility or HBOC. All analysis was done using SPSS version 9.4 (SAS Institute, Cary, NC). Results: Between August 1st, 2016 and August 1st, 2022, 81 patients presented to the study center for consultation in the setting of HBOC. Of those who presented, 48 (59.2%) ultimately underwent oocyte cryopreservation and 33 (40.7%) underwent embryo cryopreservation. Patients who underwent oocyte cryopreservation due to BRCA1 status were more likely to present for fertility consultation at a younger age compared to control patients (32.6 vs. 34.7 years, p = 0.03) and were more likely to undergo oocyte cryopreservation at a younger age (32.1 vs. 34.6 years, p = 0.007). There was no difference in age at initial consultation or age at procedure for patients with BRCA2 or patients with a strong family history compared to control patients (p > 0.05). There was no difference in the mean age of patients with HBOC at presentation for consultation for embryo cryopreservation or the mean age the patient with HBOC underwent embryo cryopreservation compared to control patients (p > 0.05). Patients with BRCA1 or BRCA2 did not have expedited time from consultation to first cycle start (p > 0.05). After adjusting for factors including anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH) level and age, patients considered in the HBOC group due to family history had less time between consultation and oocyte cryopreservation cycle compared to control patients. (179 vs. 317 days, p = 0.045). There was no difference in time from consultation to starting cycle for embryo cryopreservation for patients with HBOC compared to controls (p > 0.05). Conclusion: Patients with HBOC did not undergo expedited fertility treatment compared to control patients undergoing oocyte and embryo cryopreservation for non-infertility reasons. Patients diagnosed with BRCA1 had more oocytes retrieved compared to the control population which is possibly due to earlier age of presentation in the setting of recommended age of risk reducing surgery being age 35–40. When age matched, cycle outcomes did not differ between HBOC and control patients. Given the known cancer prevention benefit and recommendations for risk-reducing surgery, future studies should focus on guidelines for fertility preservation for patients with HBOC.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)176-181
Number of pages6
JournalGynecologic Oncology
StatePublished - Jul 2024


  • BRCA
  • Hereditary breast and ovarian Cancer syndrome
  • Previvors


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