Targeted drug therapies
Targeted drug therapies (sometimes known as biological therapies) are new types of drugs to treat cancer. They are used to stimulate the immune system, control the growth of cancer cells or to overcome side effects of treatment.
As these are newer treatments, information about side effects for targeted drug therapies is still being studied, and it is not yet known exactly what effect they have on fertility.
There are lots of different targeted drug therapies available, used in many different cancers. The two main groups are:
- Monoclonal antibodies. These drugs attach themselves to cancer cells to prevent them from growing.
- Cancer growth inhibitors. These drugs block the chemical signals that help cancer cells grow.
Trastuzumab (Herceptin) and Pertuzumab (Perjeta) are monoclonal antibody treatments, mostly used to treat some women with breast cancer. There is less information available about its effects on the reproductive system and the developing baby.
If part of your treatment involves targeted drug therapy, you will be advised not to get pregnant during cancer treatment and for a while after. Talk to your cancer care team about this.
Cancer treatments can affect fertility by:
- Damaging or lowering the number of eggs stored in the ovaries.
- Damaging a part of the body that controls the fertility hormones.
- Removing or damaging a part of the female reproductive system.
The ways in which cancer treatments affect fertility depends upon the type of cancer and the treatment you may have.
Not all women that have cancer treatment will have a fertility problem in the future.