Cancer Fertility Preservation



 Does cancer affect fertility?

Cancer and going through cancer treatments like chemotherapy can affect fertility and can make having a child more difficult. It's important to speak with your cancer care team about your family planning goals before starting treatment or having surgery to ensure you have the most options available. If you haven’t discussed fertility before starting treatment, it is important to bring it up as soon as possible. Your doctor or nurse won’t always remember to bring this up, so if fertility is important to you now or could be in the future, you may need to bring it up yourself. With the likelihood of surviving cancer on the rise, it's important to think about quality of life after cancer and if having a biological child (or another child) could be important to you. The good news is that there are options for both females and males to preserve their fertility and have the opportunity to have a baby later on, once treatment is complete. Should you choose to preserve your fertility, a Reproductive Endocrinologist (fertility doctor) will be able to help you with this process.


Does chemo or other cancer treatments make you sterile?

The risk of cancer or cancer treatment causing infertility varies depending on a number of factors like age, type and location of cancer, and type of treatment required such as surgery, radiation or chemotherapy, among other variables. Different types of cancer and treatments have different side effects, and effects on fertility, it's important to remember that everyone is different. One person's experience could be very different from yours. Your cancer care team or fertility doctor will be able to give you some insight as to the risk of infertility associated with your diagnosis and treatment plan. Depending on your personal preferences, family planning goals, religious beliefs and stage in life, there are options. Discuss your questions or concerns with your team of doctors and be sure to get enough information, support and resources to help you make this important decision in order to maintain your ability to get pregnant after chemo.

Women who need to start cancer treatment urgently and don’t have the time it takes to go through an egg freezing cycle should consider OTC. If there is more time to prepare ahead of cancer treatments, egg freezing can be an option as well! However, egg freezing requires at least 2 weeks while OTC can be done within days. Undergoing the OTC procedure guarantees more chances of conceiving later on while allowing you to receive necessary treatments without delay.


Childhood Cancer and Fertility

For girls who have not yet reached puberty, ovarian tissue freezing is currently the only option to preserve fertility. With the likelihood of surviving pediatric cancer on the rise, now around 80%, it is important to think about quality of life after treatment and if having biological children could be important later on. With chemotherapy and radiation causing girls to be at a high risk of POI (premature ovarian insufficiency) OTC will be their only opportunity to have a biological child later in life. Parents should take this into consideration and talk to their child to help them make this important decision.


Preserving fertility after a cancer diagnosis

If you have been diagnosed with any type of cancer, you should ask your doctor what your next steps will be. If they suggest chemotherapy or radiation treatment, you should ask them how the side effects could affect your fertility. It is important to undergo any fertility preservation treatment before you begin chemotherapy or radiation. You will have to make the decision quickly once diagnosed. It is best to ask as many questions as you might have in the beginning so that you can get the best possible outcome to align with your future family planning goals. If you decide you would like to have the option of having biological children in the future, you should schedule a consultation with a fertility specialist as soon as possible so as not to delay your cancer treatment plan.

Although there are certain cancers that affect the ovary or blood in which this procedure is not recommended, OTC is effective for most types of cancers. In those special cases where OTC is not recommended prior to cancer treatment, we can perform the procedure after a round of chemotherapy, given that the treatment suppresses the cancer cells and those cells will not survive the freezing process. In any case, your Oncology team, along with your Kofinas Fertility team will discuss the most viable options with you according to your individual needs.


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