We are now delaying the time to have our first child. As of today, the average Spanish woman age to become pregnant for the first time is above 31. Before conceiving, we are exposed to all kind of diseases as our age draws on.
Tumours or cancer in young people, either men or women, may seriously damage fertility and sometimes in an irreversible way.
Cancer impact in fertility
These types of cancer might be directly responsible for fertility problems such as the seminoma, the most frequent testicular tumour in males, mostly between 20 and 40 years of age. Radiotherapy or chemotherapy treatments applied may alter the future fertility, as breast cancer in young women, lymphoma, etc.
Cancer is finally defeated, but fertility is affected and, sometimes with irreversible damage. Same happens with oncology surgery: sometimes there’s no other alternative but to remove the affected ovary or testicle, preventing the gametes productions and so, having descent.
Approximately, one out of 50 women below 39 years old will develop cancer.
We know that 45% approx. of women undergoing chemotherapy and an 85% of men, are going to suffer an ovarian or testicle failure and become infertile. That is, they are going to suffer a “gonadotoxicity”.
In this case, first objective is to cure the disease and to improve the life quality and second, preserve fertility in patients with cancer so they can, later on, have offspring. The later can be done in different ways.
It is much easier with males as, since the disease is detected, we can freeze the sperm samples, the more the better, before starting chemotherapy, radiotherapy or surgery. These frozen samples may be kept in store for years.
For women we have different options. We have greatly improved results in the last years, and thanks to this we can apply different processes to preserve fertility:
- Have surgery in the ovary and “move” it to avoid radiotherapy.
- Hormone treatment to put the ovary to “sleep”.
- Freeze Oocytes, vitrify and preserve them for a later fertilization.
- Vitrify the couple’s embryos and transfer them once the disease is cured.
- Remove ovarian tissue by surgery and freeze it so it can be reinserted after the cancer treatment (know more about it: Freeze ovarian tissue. Fertility preservation on oncologic patients).
The Reproduction Medicine specialist along the oncologic team, will coordinate and evaluate which technique to use, timeframes and required timings for each patient. Each technique has a different indication: We must have into account the patient’s age, type of tumour and location and finally what kind of chemotherapy is going to receive.
We can now confirm that men and women with genital cancer or who is going to undergo chemo – radiotherapy for a tumour located at any part of the body will not be sterile, but they have great chances to overcome the disease and have healthy offspring.
Instituto Bernabeu free Programme for oncology patients to freeze their eggs
At Instituto Bernabeu we understand that, besides giving the best possible medical treatment, we have to keep in mind how exceptional this kind of situations are and, last thing the patient has to worry about is the economic factor. For this reason, Rafael Bernabeu Fund has taken complete care of the egg preservation treatments, for both technical procedures and required medical assistance. This way, the only thing oncologic patients have to worry about is to overcome this disease with success.
The eggs will be kept in custody until the time the patients decide to become mothers after overcoming the disease.
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