There are several specific cancer treatments that may significantly reduce patients’ fertility and that is why, before the start of the treatment, it is worth finding out what can be preserved. It is extremely important to preserve genetic material before starting any cancer treatment, as therapy adversely affects the reproductive function.
There are several fertility preservation methods available to women, men and prepubescent children:
2. Organ preservation surgeries
3. Ovarian transposition
4. Use of GnRH agonists during chemotherapy
Although childhood cancer is rare, patients’ future fertility should be considered and we strongly recommend giving it a thought, because child’s body continues to develop, but cancer treatment may irreversibly damage future fertility of the child. In prepubescent children, ovarian or testicular tissues may be frozen to preserve fertility. In order to preserve male fertility, sperm freezing, TESA sample freezing or testicular tissue freezing. Transplantation of testicular tissue back to the testicles restores spermatogenesis.
Women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer, uterine cancer, cervical cancer, sarcoma or Hodgkin’s and other types of lymphoma should give special consideration to fertility preservation. With other types of cancer, each case should be assessed individually. Ovarian tissue freezing is recommended in the event of such conditions as sickle cell anaemia, thalassemia and aplastic anaemia, as well as to women with autoimmune diseases whose immunosuppressive therapy has been unsuccessful or who have genetic mutations posing a high risk of premature ovarian failure. Patients who are not advised to have a hormonal stimulation to get more eggs or embryos for vitrification can choose ovarian tissue freezing. When the woman is ready to get pregnant, ovarian tissue is transplanted back to the ovaries or other part of the body, i.e. upper arm or abdominal wall. After the transplantation, the reproductive function is restored, which means that hormones are released and follicles start to mature.
The most common malignant tumours increasing the risk of infertility are:
These malignant tumours often develop during reproductive age and mostly are treatable. Today, combination therapy has high efficacy and increases the survival rate. That is why cancer patients can often choose to continue leading a normal life. Fertility preservation and use of reproductive function are becoming an important matter for patients with good prognosis.
Preconditions for fertility preservation in cancer patients:
! A consultation with an oncologist or fertility specialist is necessary to select the optimum fertility preservation method.
What to do if you have been diagnosed with cancer?
! iVF Riga Genetics Centre also offers Genetic testing for hereditary tumours.