Saving Your Fertility After a Cancer Diagnosis
Now, more than ever, patients who undergo lifesaving cancer treatment don’t have to give up their hope of having a baby. Fertility-threatening cancer treatments are not nearly as ominous as they were just a few short years ago. Many cancer therapies do have side effects such as fertility loss and early menopause, however important advancements in reproductive technology have enabled physicians to preserve their patients’ fertility.
Mark Severino, MD of SIRM Las Vegas in Las Vegas, NV, discusses various options to preserve fertility after a cancer diagnosis.
Each Case is Unique
There is no single right approach to preserving a patient’s fertility. Each patient considers various factors as they make decisions about care:
- Specific type of cancer therapy
- Time available for fertility preservation before starting cancer therapy
- Personal preferences regarding how to go about fertility preservation
At SIRM Las Vegas, we understand that decisions regarding cancer treatment often have to be made very quickly under stressful circumstances. We’re committed to seeing patients as soon as possible (often with minimal or no wait time) and presenting all available options so they can feel as comfortable as possible with their treatment plan.
Pre-Cancer Therapy Options
IVF & Embryo Banking
There are many good options to consider prior to a patient’s cancer therapy. If you can safely postpone treatment for 2-6 weeks you may want to consider IVF (In Vitro Fertilization) and embryo banking. With these procedures, the ovaries are stimulated to produce multiple eggs, the eggs are combined with sperm in the lab and the resulting embryos are frozen. This all occurs over a 2-6 week period. Once cancer treatment and recovery are completed, the embryos are implanted.
The egg banking process is similar to embryo banking in that the ovaries are stimulated to produce several eggs. However, in egg banking for fertility preservation, the eggs are retrieved from the ovaries and frozen. They are fertilized at a later date and the embryos that result are implanted after cancer treatment and recovery are completed.
One of the most significant advances in reproductive technology in recent years is a cryopreservation technique called vitrification. We have seen an improvement in egg survival after freezing, fertilization and subsequent pregnancy rates using this excellent technique.
Fertility Sparing Surgery
Fertility sparing surgery may be an option for women who will undergo abdominal or pelvic irradiation, or women with early stage cervical cancer. There are many options available depending upon the specific circumstances. Using a technique called ovarian transposition, the ovaries can be surgically relocated away from the radiation field. It may be possible for a gynecologic oncologist to preserve the reproductive organs during cancer surgery for patients who have been diagnosed with early stage cervical or ovarian cancer.
Want to learn more about how fertility can be preserved after an ovarian cancer diagnosis? SIRM Las Vegas can help. Click here to schedule an appointment with one of our specialists today or call 702-892-9696.