Wednesday 13 June 2018

“Is pregnancy after cancer treatment possible? Is it safe?” - Guest blog post from Egg Donation Friends.

“Is pregnancy after cancer treatment possible? Is it safe?”

Christina Applegate, Giuliana Rancic – these celebrities have beaten cancer and then became moms. Is it possible? In some cases, yes. If you have beaten cancer, congratulations! You are a survivor. You have been through a difficult battle. Probably you can still experience its consequences today. The aftermath of battling cancer may include chronic fatigue, weakness, pain and, for some patients, …. infertility. Cancer treatment may put female fertility at risk, even many years after the cancer is gone into remission.

Cancer treatments and fertility

Depending what type of treatment you have had, surgery, chemotherapy or radiation therapy (you may also have a combination of the three), your fertility may be affected in different ways. In the case of cancer of the female reproductive organs, your doctors may recommend removing the affected ovary (or ovaries), uterus, or fallopian tubes through surgery. Removing the mentioned organs will make it impossible for the woman to conceive on her own. In case when the uterus is unaffected, the woman may potentially undergo an IVF treatment with egg donation program and carry a pregnancy in the future.
Chemotherapy’s aim is to damage cancer cells but, unfortunately, woman’s eggs are at risk of damage by chemo drugs. As you know every woman is born with all the eggs she will ever have. Eggs are not produced throughout your lifetime. The drugs damage the DNA of eggs and natural conception and healthy pregnancy may be at risk in the future. Eggs will be of low quality and genetically abnormal and this may result in failed fertilisation, early miscarriage or birth defects. Cancer treatment in the form of radiation may also affect fertility, destroy eggs or even trigger an early menopause for the cancer survivor.
How can cancer survivors beat infertility? Is pregnancy after cancer treatment possible at all?

Preserving your fertility

Nowadays there is more talk (though still not enough) about fertility preservation options for women and young girls who are going to undergo cancer treatment. Young women, upon learning about their cancer diagnosis, are advised to consult a fertility specialist. If the timing and other factors are on your side, the doctor may recommend freezing your eggs and storing them in an egg bank or an IVF clinic for future use. You may not want children now, but who knows what “future you” would want. Still, according to Institut Marquès, only 1 in ten women who started an IVF cycle had their eggs frozen before they started chemotherapy.
Some cancer survivors wonder if pregnancy can trigger cancer in some way. According to the doctors at Institut Marquès, being pregnant after cancer is safe. It is important that the patient’s health is closely monitored not only by gynaecologists but also by an oncologist, radiotherapist, and endocrinologist. The clinic has examined a group of cancer survivors and 89% of them turned out to be healthy enough to start their IVF treatment. And, what is more, 70% of them had babies within two years from the first appointment at the clinic. This is very reassuring news!
The clinic’s research says that on average cancer survivor usually waits approximately 8 years from the moment they find out about their cancer before they consult a fertility specialist. That is a very long time. It is worth taking action much earlier and visiting a fertility clinic no matter if you are over 30 or only 18. Find out what options you have and how to prepare for IVF. Take your fertility matters into your own hands. It is you who should decide when and how to have a baby, not cancer.


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