Fertility and Cancer
1 in 10 of all cancer cases occur in adults of reproductive age. With rapid advances in treatment options for young adults and women of reproductive age with cancer, the long term survival for many previously poor prognosis diseases is much improved .
However, some surgeries and many forms of chemotherapy or radiation therapy that have proven so effective in improving survival rates may severely compromise ovarian, testicular or uterine function. Their damaging effect on developing eggs within the ovary may lead to a dramatic loss in ovarian function, amenorrhoea (loss of cyclical pattern) that may be irreversible and possibly early menopause. Women of reproductive age that receive such a diagnosis may therefore be facing potential loss of future fertility or diminishment in the chances of future childbearing.
These treatments do not have to end the hopes of having a family. Today, in some but not all cases, women with cancer may have the option to preserve their fertility by freezing their eggs or embryos before undergoing cancer treatment and men will have the opportunity to freeze sperm.
We recognise that the initial focus of care should always be the mapping out of the most successful treatment strategy with your oncology team. In parallel to this, and in conjunction with the oncology team the Lister Fertility Clinic will be able to discuss fertility preservation options in more detail and potentially plan treatment within 48 hours if necessary. If appropriate, and after discussion you decide to proceed with a fertility preservation option, treatment can start immediately so as not to delay any of the planned oncological treatment.
Where required (for example oestrogen dependent breast malignancies), we utilise specific oestrogen-limiting protocols that aim to maximise response but minimise the oestrogen exposure that may be detrimental
Our aim is to eliminate some of the barriers to preservation by providing a simple pathway for rapid referral, with ease of access to written information and oncofertility counseling, direct access to treating reproductive specialist and a one-stop preparation for treatment.