Given the toxicity of chemotherapy and radiation, a cancer diagnosis in young patients once meant giving up the chance to have a child in the future. However, with advances in care, that may no longer be the case. Lehigh Valley Health Network offers the latest in fertility-sparing cancer treatments.
Fertility-sparing techniques aim to protect the ability to reproduce without impacting a patient’s chances for recovery or long-term survival.
For example, women with Hodgkin’s disease or early breast cancer who want to become mothers can be given Lupron® (leuprolide) during chemotherapy. It potentially preserves ovarian function by reducing estrogen production.
Some patients with ovarian cancer can be given chemotherapeutic agents that are less likely to cause infertility.
Similarly, for women with early or advanced cervical cancer, traditional treatment includes hysterectomy. But with fertility-sparing surgery, only the cervix is surgically removed, sparing the uterus and making future pregnancies possible.
As an added precaution, patients might choose to cryopreserve their eggs or embryos before undergoing chemotherapy. Human oocyte (egg) cryopreservation (sub-zero freezing process) is particularly advantageous for women with cancer who don’t currently have a partner.
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