Study Shows It May Be Possible to Preserve Child-Bearing Ability in Young Girls with Cancer

Research appearing in the on-line edition of Fertility and Sterility revealed that it may be possible for girls suffering from cancer in childhood to preserve their ability to have children later in life.

While advances in cancer therapies have dramatically improved survival rates for patients who suffer from childhood cancers, the use of chemotherapy and radiation often results in impaired fertility or sterility as those patients reach adulthood. For males mature enough to be producing sperm, sperm freezing has long been an option. For young females however, the ovulation induction and egg freezing techniques that might help adult women are not an option.

Researchers at Hadassah Hebrew University Medical Center in Jerusalem examined the ability to remove and preserve ovarian tissue from young female cancer patients and then retrieve, mature and freeze eggs from that tissue. They worked with 19 patients between the ages of 5 and 20. On average they were able to retrieve an average of nine oocytes per patient and 34% of them were successfully matured. The next step in this research will be test the ability of these eggs to become fertilized.

“As our ability to treat childhood cancers improves, it becomes more important that those survivors are able to live rich, full lives, including the ability have children. This research helps moves us to the goal of allowing pediatric cancer survivors to become parents,” said David Adamson, MD, President of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.

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