Cancer. This difficult and complicated disease that has increased its onset of presentation, having affected millions of people worldwide, and it does not discriminates between age, race, religion, sex, etc. It is simply a disease that we all come with, and our genetics predispose each one of us of having it active at any moment during our life, specially when we have a family history of this disease.
Oncofertility is a field that bridges fertility with oncology in a way to provide options to cancer survivors of becoming parents in the future using their own gametes. It is known that treatment for cancer (chemotherapy, radiation and surgery) can destroy completely the gametes of female and males, making them impossible for them to conceive children in their future. Also, the number of cancer survivors has increased with the onset of new technologies for diagnose and on- time treatment of the disease. For this reason, having an increased number of cancer survivors and their desire to become parents, oncofertility was created as a perfect alternative of preserving gametes for future use.
It is known we do have technologies to cryopreserve human gametes and tissue. They can be frozen for many years and then being used in the future with no harm or possible complications. Every year, thousands of cryopreservations are made, providing patients with the opportunity to use their gametes in the future.
In case of a severe cancer that needs to start an immediate treatment, there are options of tissue cryopreservation. This technique was not possible to be used 10 years ago with confidence. Today, we can say with confidence this technique has provided good results with the later re-implantation of this healthy-cancer free tissue and viable eggs have been obtained. In the case there is a chance of hormonal stimulation (which requires 10-15 days of hormonal treatment) it is possible to obtain eggs. These can be frozen as eggs or create embryos if the woman is sure who she would like to use the embryos with.
In cases of male cancer, there are even more chances of freezing sperm, because the process of obtaining sperm it is through a simple masturbation. It makes it easier to be obtained and stored for future use.
Each person signs a consent form to declare in writing what they wish to do with their samples in any case of absence, incapacity to make decisions or death.
Because cancer does not discriminates between age, we do know more than 20% of patients fighting this disease are on their reproductive years, most of them less than 40 years old.
The main problem today is the cost of these treatments...Continue reading
My name is Lucy Coleman. I am a Medical Doctor and specialist in Human Reproduction, Fertility and Embryology.