Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Preserving Fertility Prior to Cancer Treatments
This month, women and men around the nation are adorned in pink to spread awareness for breast cancer. About 1 in 8 U.S. women (12%) will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. One of the main concerns for reproductive-age women faced with a cancer diagnosis is whether or not she will be able conceive once her treatments are complete.
A very real and unfortunate side effect of cancer and cancer treatment is infertility. Various types of cancer and cancer treatments, including chemotherapy and radiation, may have different effects on a woman’s fertility. Fortunately, in some cases, there is hope for successful conception, depending on the type and extent of the cancer at hand. Below are several options for women facing cancer-related infertility.
Embryo freezing involves removing mature eggs during in vitro fertilization (IVF), combining them with partner or donor sperm in the laboratory, freezing, and then storing them. In standard IVF, eggs are matured through the use of hormone therapy. Because of the effects of hormones on certain types of cancer, embryo freezing is not an option for all cancer patients.
For oncofertility patients, the embryo freezing process typically takes between 2-3 weeks and is available for women after puberty. Embryos may be stored until the cancer is in successful remission.
Your physician will let you know when it is safe to attempt pregnancy after cancer treatment. Once a patient has the approval of her physician, your physician will continue the IVF process by removing a limited number of frozen embryos from storage and transferring them into the patient’s uterus.
For single women who do not wish to use donor sperm, egg freezing is a viable option. During this process, unfertilized eggs are removed, frozen and stored for use at a later time. The procedure is similar to embryo freezing and requires the use of hormone therapy. Because of the effects of hormones on certain types of cancer, egg freezing is not an option for all cancer patients. The egg freezing process typically takes 2-3 weeks and is available for women after puberty. Eggs may be stored until the cancer is in successful remission.
If you’ve been diagnosed with cancer and would like to learn more about your fertility options, we would be honored to help you. You can review what options we have as a clincic here at http://www.houstonivf.net/services-2/patients-with-cancer-2/ or feel free to contact us today, to schedule an appointment.