Fertility Preservation | by
The process of saving or protecting eggs, sperm or reproductive tissue so that a person can use them to have biological children in the future.
Metro Denver Fertility Clinics
Resource: American Society of Clinical Oncology Professional organization for physicians and oncology professionals caring for people with cancer. Offers opportunities for training, online discussion and advocacy.
Fertility Specialists Can Offer Cancer Patients Hope Of Fulfilling Family Dreams
For fertility doctors, telling a woman she cannot have a baby that’s genetically her own always tops their list of worst things to do. But when that woman recently faced down cancer in her prime and was never told that her life-saving treatment could steal her fertility, the task of delivering that dream-crushing news becomes even more daunting.
It’s a scenario that plays out all too often in fertility clinics across the country, as more cancer patients are surviving the disease, but a significant number are not being counseled on today’s advanced fertility-preserving techniques. In response, The cancer center at Sky Ridge has partnered with Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine (CCRM) and Conceptions Reproductive Associates of Colorado to build communication bridges between oncologists and fertility experts to encourage pre-treatment counseling and save more patients’ parenthood dreams.
“Chemotherapy essentially destroys women’s egg quality,” says Dr. William Schoolcraft, founder of the Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine. “Sometimes, it completely throws women into menopause … In some cases, radiation can do that as well. It depends on where the treatment is targeted,” he says. The likelihood of which depends on age and the amount and type of drugs used.
Fertility issues plague as many as half of all cancer patients, men included, Schoolcraft says.
Steep Obstacles Prevail
Although the problem has gained some recognition with guiding organizations such as the American Society of Clinical Oncology recommending all cancer patients receive fertility counseling before treatment, a number of obstacles are still hindering progress. A chief one: cancer experts’ engrained goal of saving lives.
“When patients are diagnosed with cancer, they are directed to oncologists who are so focused on saving the person’s life — and rightly so — that fertility is not a priority,” Schoolcraft says.
Years back, when survival rates for the types of cancers that strike reproductive-aged patients were poor, it wasn’t as much of an issue, he says. But those numbers have turned, and patients are often living for many years past cancer diagnoses and wanting to start families.
In Schoolcraft’s experience, fertility counseling before cancer treatment can be tough for patients. “The hardest part is just the sheer panic they are going through,” Schoolcraft says.
“Suddenly, they are thrust into coping with a diagnosis of cancer and also having to think about long-term fertility. It’s just a lot of decisions to deal with in a short amount of time.” However, advancement in reproductive technology now offers a brighter future for cancer survivors.
Colorado fertility specialists offer patients new hope for fertility after cancer, counseling women on the latest fertility options based on their unique cancer and collaborating with their oncologist to preserve the patient’s fertility before cancer treatment begins.
Consult your physician to learn about the latest fertility options.
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