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Cancer and Your Fertility

Cancer and Your Fertility
Cancer Diagnosis is heartbreaking and your first thoughts are about your future, treatment and survival. Cancer treatment can have effects on your future of having children after you beat cancer. Protect your future, your choice or your dream of having children. An estimated 1,372,910 people were diagnosed with cancer in 2005, of which 4% (approximately […]

Cancer Diagnosis is heartbreaking and your first thoughts are about your future, treatment and survival. Cancer treatment can have effects on your future of having children after you beat cancer. Protect your future, your choice or your dream of having children. An estimated 1,372,910 people were diagnosed with cancer in 2005, of which 4% (approximately 55,000) are under the age of 35. The most common cancers diagnosed in people under the age of 40 years are breast cancer, melanoma, cervical cancer, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and leukemia. The average age of cancer diagnosis shows that fertility should always be an important consideration before starting cancer treatment; for both patients and the physicians treating and advising them.

Rates of permanent infertility and compromised fertility after cancer treatment vary and depend on many factors. The effects of chemotherapy and radiation therapy depend on the drug or size/location of the radiation field, dose, dose-intensity, method of administration (oral versus intravenous), disease, age, sex, and pretreatment fertility of the patient. Male infertility can result from the disease itself (best documented in patients with testicular cancer and Hodgkin’s lymphoma), anatomic problems, primary or secondary hormonal insufficiency, or more frequently, from damage or depletion of the germinal stem cells (the cells that become oocytes or immature eggs in females and sperm in males.

The measurable effects of chemotherapy or radiotherapy include compromised sperm number, health and DNA integrity. In females, fertility can be compromised by any treatment that decreases the number of follicles (pre eggs), affects hormonal balance, or interferes with the functioning of the ovaries, fallopian tubes, uterus, or cervix. Anatomic or vascular changes to the uterus, cervix, or vagina from surgery or radiation may also prevent natural conception and successful pregnancy, requiring assisted reproductive technology or use of a gestational carrier.

Total-body irradiation as used in stem-cell transplantation is highly associated with infertility, while lesser doses or limited radiation fields have less toxicity.  Given the lack of data regarding rates of male and female infertility following most current cancer treatments and the large number of patient factors that influence fertility, oncologists may have difficulty providing precise guidance to patients about their risks for infertility.

Questions to ask your doctor

It is important to talk with your doctor as early as possible about how cancer treatment may affect your fertility because most fertility-preserving procedures need to be done before cancer treatment begins. Consider asking your doctor the following questions:

  • What are the possible short-term and long-term effects of my treatment plan on fertility?
  • What is the risk of permanent infertility associated with the treatments recommended for my type, stage, and grade of cancer? Are there other treatments that do not pose as high a risk but are equally effective?
  • Is there a way for me to still be able to become pregnant or father a child after treatment?
  • Where can I find support for coping with fertility issues?
  • Whom can I contact if I need help talking with my spouse or partner about fertility issues?

 

Please contact the office to schedule a fertility preservation consultation if you have been diagnosed with cancer.  ReproMed Fertility Center works in coordination with oncologists’ at the consultation will discuss possible protection of your fertility during treatment; as well as your fertility preservation[/link options. There is no significant delay in your cancer treatment as the entire fertility preservation process[/link can be completed in as little as two weeks. The physicians at ReproMed Fertility Center know that time is very important for this treatment and make every effort to see you as quickly as possible.  Usually you can be seen within 1-2 days of when you call to request an appointment. The treatment cost at our fertility center is significantly less than other centers due to our special cancer fertility preservation program.

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