New method could help women fight cancer and still have kids

Stephanie Moisio was 29 and married for just two years when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

She faced months of chemotherapy.

Stephanie Moisio was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 29.

"We were very concerned that we weren't going to be ever be able to have children and we wanted kids so we were worried," Moisio told CBS News.

Chemotherapy can cause infertility and early menopause.

"The thought is that the cycling ovaries are at increased risk for the damaging effects of chemotherapy," said Dr. Halle Moore, a staff physician at the Cleveland Clinic and Moisio's oncologist.

Moore tried a novel approach: Giving Moisio a hormone-blocking drug during chemotherapy. The hormone blocker temporarily shuts down the ovaries, putting them into a kind of protective hibernation.

"Basically it is putting the woman into a temporary menopause in the hopes that by resting the ovaries during chemotherapy she will have a lower risk of long term menopause," Moore said.

Moisio now has two healthy girls.

Moore was the lead author on a study released Friday, which followed 218 pre-menopausal women with breast cancer. After two years, eight percent of women given the hormone blocker had premature ovarian failure, compared to 22 percent of those not given the drug.

Women on the drug had many more pregnancies - 22 compared to 12.

Less than a year after finishing her cancer treatment, Mosio became pregnant.

"We were ecstatic," Mosio said. "Couldn't believe it."

She now has two healthy girls.

  • Jon Lapook
    Jonathan LaPook

    Dr. Jonathan LaPook is the chief medical correspondent for the CBS Evening News. Follow him on Twitter at @DrLaPook