Treatment and survival rates of cancer are always the first focus of concern when treating cancer patients. But cancer survivors are now living longer and quality of life after treatment including the possibility of fertility should be considered.
There are several fertility treatment options available for the patient recently diagnosed with cancer. In patients with a male partner, IVF can be performed, embryos produced, cryopreserved and later transferred with excellent success rates. The entire IVF stimulation and egg retrieval process can be completed within 2–3 weeks. For single women or women without a male partner, IVF with donor sperm to produce embryos for storage is an option; or they could consider egg cryopreservation (see Question 79). We believe that egg cryopreservation will soon become a routine procedure in the advanced reproductive technologies and especially so for cancer patients.
Finally, some cancer patients have achieved successful pregnancies after later transplantation of their cryopreserved ovarian tissue. In this technique, ovarian tissue is surgically removed prior to chemotherapy or radiation therapy, banked and stored for later autotransplantation in a second surgical procedure. Obviously, egg and embryo cryopreservation have the advantage of avoiding surgery.
For additional information concerning fertility and cancer, we recommend the book 100 Questions and Answers about Fertility and Cancer by Dr. Kutluk Oktay, Lindsay Beck and Joyce Reincecke.