Learn about breast cancer fertility preservation options
Receiving a breast cancer diagnosis would likely send ripple effects through your whole life. If you or a loved one is grappling with this kind of news, it can feel overwhelming. Part of the planning at this point involves forming a strategy to fight this disease and thinking about the future. Early detection and advances in treatment options have improved survival odds, so patients need to consider life after breast cancer, including creating or expanding their families. The doctors at Texas Fertility Center (TFC) can help patients and their loved ones weigh the options and determine the best course of action.
Common fertility preservation questions
Who is a candidate for fertility preservation?
Most cancer patients can safeguard their fertility for the future. The cancer type and stage of the disease, as well as where you are in your course of treatment will factor into any fertility preservation options. TFC will partner with your oncologist to deal with any potential issues, such as if hormone therapy will potentially accelerate cancer growth or if a delay in treatment could negatively impact your ultimate outcome.
How do you begin the process?
As soon as possible, patients need to let their oncologists know about their desire for fertility preservation. At that point, you should contact TFC. Our fertility center will make your case a priority so that you will experience the shortest possible delay in your cancer treatment.
What are the options for fertility preservation?
Breast cancer patients have a couple of options that can enable them to build or expand their families after recovery, including:
Oocyte, egg cryopreservation
For years, technology has allowed for sperm and embryo freezing. Until recently, egg freezing wasn’t a viable option. With unfertilized eggs, ice crystals could form during the freezing process, causing damage to the eggs as they were frozen or thawed. Vitrification, a flash-freezing process, has changed all of that, resulting in a significant
improvement in pregnancy rates. Egg freezing is a good option for young patients as well as for those who aren’t in a relationship.
When sperm and egg join during fertilization, an embryo forms. Embryo cryopreservation involves combining egg and sperm in a lab and then freezing the resulting embryos for future use. As with oocyte freezing, vitrification has made a huge difference here as well. Embryo vitrification always results in higher pregnancy/delivery rates than oocyte vitrification, but this option is only available to couples or women who are using donor sperm.
What does fertility preservation involve?
This process involves ovarian stimulation and then egg retrieval in a process similar to IVF (in-vitro fertilization). During the stimulation phase, patients take fertility medications to facilitate the growth and development of multiple eggs. Once the follicles mature, the physicians at Texas Fertility Center can retrieve the eggs for either vitrification or fertilization with sperm. For more information, please visit www.txfertility.com
Discussing Medical Fertility Preservation for Oncofertility With Dr. Amy Schutt