Cancer and Fertility: What are the Options?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012 - 3:40pm

For the AYA population, becoming a parent was probably an afterthought, until cancer threatened the possibility.

Among the many decisions that come with a cancer diagnosis, protecting your fertility is now on the forefront. Before you begin treatment, learn your fertility preservation options. Arm yourself with information, ask questions, and connect with others who have been through it.

The most frequent cause of impaired fertility in male cancer survivors is chemotherapy, or radiation-induced damage to sperm. The fertility of female survivors may be impaired by any treatment that damages immature eggs, affects the body’s hormonal balance, or injures the reproductive organs. Physicians and nurses at Roswell Park are issued a set of guidelines by The American Society of Clinical Oncologists to address any concerns that may arise before, during or after your treatment at Roswell Park.

If you are concerned with preserving your ability to have children in the future, discuss these concerns with your physicians and nurses as soon as possible. Some options may only be available before your treatments begin.

Questions to Ask Your Doctor About Cancer Treatment and Fertility:

  • What are the short-term and long-term effects of cancer treatment on my fertility?
  • What is the risk of permanent infertility associated with the treatments recommended for my type, stage, and grade of cancer? Are there other treatments that could be considered that do not pose as high a risk, but are equally effective?
  • What are the options for preserving my fertility before treatment?
  • What are the options for preserving my fertility during or after treatment?
  • Do any of these fertility preservation options make my cancer treatment less effective?
  • Do any of these fertility preservation options increase the risk that the cancer may come back?
  • Can I become pregnant (women) or impregnate someone (men) while receiving chemotherapy or radiation therapy? What happens if pregnancy results during treatment? What is the risk of birth defects and/or harm to the fetus and/or mother?
  • How long must I wait after treatment before trying to have kids?
     

There is a lot of support out there for cancer patients struggling with the many decisions that come with a cancer diagnosis. Below are a few options to help you deal with fertility preservation and infertility, as well as connect you with like-minded individuals coping with cancer.

Resources for Information and Support:

  • Fertile Hope is a national LIVESTRONG initiative dedicated to helping cancer patients faced with infertility. Phone: (888) 994-HOPE (4673).
  • CancerCare is a national non-profit organization that provides free, professional support services for anyone affected by cancer. Phone: (800) 813-HOPE (4673).
  • Pregnant with Cancer is a national non-profit organization that connects pregnant cancer patients with others going through the same thing. Phone: (800) 743-4471.
  • The Infertility and Invitro Fertilization Medical Associates of Western New York services include: infertility evaluation and treatment; computerized semen analysis; In Vitro Fertilization (IVP); Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI); donor sperm insemination; endometriosis surgery and treatment; tubal ligation reversal; and surgical treatment of uterine fibroids. Location: 4510 Main Street, Snyder, NY 14226. Phone: (716) 839-3057.
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