Today, advancements in assisted reproductive techniques ART have made it possible for cancer patients to have hope of experiencing parenthood through IVF treatment. Oncofertility is the term given to the process of preserving this fertility in both males as well as female cancer patients.
Cancer is considered a dreaded disease, and some cancer treatments affect the patients’ fertility. Unfortunately, there have been instances of fully recovered cancer patients but unable to bear children. Also, statistics forecast that more than 0.934 million people will be affected by cancer by 2026, with women being more in number in India.
Fertility preservation is essential, and hence creating awareness about it amongst cancer patients is vital as they can hope to experience parenthood in the future whenever possible. Dr. Hrishikesh Pai, Founder-Director of Bloom IVF Centre, one of the oldest IVF groups in India, states that fertility preservation is the need of the hour as the number of young people affected by cancer are rising day by day, and it is equally important for them to attempt to preserve their fertility. Fertility preservation gives them a ray of hope to live meaningfully.
With nearly 50% of the cancer patients below 50 years, the future seems extremely distressful and alarming, especially what it could mean to the fertility quotient of these patients. But as mentioned earlier, careful planning during the cancer treatment does make it possible for them to become parents.
How do cancer treatments affect fertility?
Yes, cancer treatments do hamper the fertility factor in both men and women. However, various cancer treatments affect the patient differently. The damage depends upon the number of sittings the dosages of the drugs administered, while the patient’s age is yet another important factor that needs consideration. This is true for radiation as well as chemotherapy.
The effects of radiation are more serious than those of chemotherapy. They depend upon the size of the radiation field, location, and the dose given. Also, removal of uterus or ovaries, as in the case of women seeking treatment of cancers of the reproductive system, does lead to zero chance of childbearing experience.
However, with IVF and various fertility preservation methods available, it is now possible to preserve fertility for the future. Donor eggs, donor sperms, donor embryos, embryo freezing, egg freezing, ovarian cortex freezing are some of the options available to cancer patients to preserve their fertility
Cancer treatment and fertility preservation
Cancer treatment is known to hamper the fertility quotient of the patients. But with oncofertility dedicated efforts, and attempts made towards securing the ovarian tissue, sperms, fertile eggs before the cancer treatment have made it possible.
Fertility preservation solutions for cancer patients
Oocyte Cryopreservation – Popularly known as egg freezing, it involves extracting, freezing, and storing of woman’s eggs, i.e., oocytes, for use in the future. When required, these frozen are thawed, fertilized with the sperm, and implanted in the uterus.
Embryo Freezing – In this procedure, the embryos, the harvested eggs which are fertilized during an IVF cycle, are cryopreserved. Then, when the cancer patient is healthy and willing to go ahead with the pregnancy, these embryos are thawed and placed in the uterus.
Ovarian Cortex Freezing: It is a relatively new procedure in attempting fertility preservation. The cortex part of the ovary contains the eggs and is stored for use in the future. This procedure is ideal for young patients suffering from cancer for which embryo or egg freezing is not feasible.
Sperm Freezing – Also known as sperm cryopreservation as the sperm is frozen and stored for future use in a sperm bank or a fertility clinic and can be used as and when required.
Testicular Tissue Freezing: Testicular Tissue Freezing is recommended for boys seeking cancer treatment and who have yet to attain their puberty but need to preserve their fertility. Cancer treatment can likely affect their gonads, i.e., testicular tissue.
Dr. Hrishikesh Pai is one of India’s most experienced IVF specialists, with nearly 35+ years of experience. He is well recognized for his attempts to help childless patients bear children and experience the joy of parenthood. Over his professional career, he has set up nearly 8 Bloom IVF centers pan India. Today, Bloom IVF is synonymous with IVF treatments in the cities of Mumbai, Navi Mumbai, Faridabad, Gurgaon, Chandigarh, and Delhi.
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