Fertility Preservation for Cancer Patients

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The goal of fertility preservation is to ensure that everyone particularly people diagnosed with one form of cancer or the other have baby in the future. Fertility preservation is concerned mainly with the storage of reproductive tissues involving freezing and storing eggs, sperm and embryos.

A person may decide to preserve his or her fertility if he or she wants to postpone parenthood to a later time in the future or if he or she is scheduled for certain medical treatment like cancer treatment.


Effects of cancer and its treatment on fertility
Uterine and testicular cancers are cancers of the reproductive organs which have been found to be one of the causes of infertility. It must be clearly stated that the effects of cancer treatment on fertility can either short-lived or enduring depending on the person’s age, the type of cancer treatment given, the type and stage of the cancer and their fertility status prior to treatment.

Radiation therapy which is a major cancer management option is harmful to the female as the radiation is capable of damaging not only the eggs but also the ovarian follicles and the reproductive hormones.
Female fertility and cancer treatment

It has been established that chemotherapy and radiation therapy have significant effect on lowering female fertility. However, these treatments are inimical to the eggs, ovarian follicles and hormones. Radiation directed to the ovaries or chemotherapy drugs called alkylating agents are most harmful to fertility.

Also, premature menopause, occurring before 40 years of age, can be a side effect of some cancer treatments, with the risk of occurrence increasing as women age. Hysterectomy and surgical removal of both ovaries remain the only option to address the issue but it could lead to infertility.

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Male fertility and cancer treatment
Just like the female, some types of chemotherapy and high doses of radiation therapy are harmful to stem cells that produce sperm. However, these types of treatment may result in reduction in the quality or quantity of sperm or damage sperm DNA. Similarly, some hormone therapies used in the treatment of prostate cancer and other cancers may impair male fertility. It must also be emphasized that surgical removal of the testicles is equally harmful to male fertility.


Seeking Medical Assistance
It is advisable for anyone planning to undergo cancer treatment and desires to have a child in the future to discuss fertility preservation with their doctor.
The doctor would advice whether the cancer treatment that the patient is about to undergo is likely to lead to infertility. They may offer the best fertility preservation options available to that person.
The best time to preserve fertility is prior to cancer treatment, as even one session of treatment may damage fertility.

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