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Can cancer treatment and other conditions cause patient's fertility? Here's what expert has to say

We spoke to Dr Santosh Gupta, Fertility Consultant at Nova IVF fertility, Koramangala in Bengaluru, who cancer treatment may cause loss of fertility 

Can cancer treatment and other conditions cause patient's fertility? Here's what expert has to say RBA
First Published Jan 31, 2023, 11:43 AM IST

Fertility preservation is the procedure of saving or protecting eggs, sperm, or reproductive tissue. This process aims to allow a person to conceive in the future. This process is usually practised for cancer patients or certain diseases where the person is at risk of losing gametes early. Many a day, a woman who wants to delay childbearing for a social or medical reason also can opt for fertility preservation.

As cancer treatments are advancing and becoming more effective, cancer patient survival is increasing and there is a need to think about life after cancer is cured. Most cancer treatments, Chemotherapy or radiotherapy, can damage the eggs or sperm during treatment. Therefore, it is important to discuss preserving eggs or sperm with the cancer patient before jumping the treatment.

Cervical cancer is one of the most common cancers in Indian women .it is the cancer of the mouth of the uterus, which is known as the cervix. It can be detected early by a regular pap smear.

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Cancer Treatment May Cause loss of fertility 

  • Surgery: -treatment might need surgical removal of the uterus, Cervix or ovaries, depending on the cancer stage.
  • Chemotherapy: - it is usually toxic to the eggs, The effects depend on the drug and the dosage during Chemotherapy. 
  • Radiation: - Radiation is comparatively more damaging than Chemotherapy, depending on the location and size of the radiation field and the dose given.
  • Other cancer medications: - Hormonal therapies which are used to treat certain cancers in women can affect fertility in later years.

Breast cancer is another cancer that is very common in young women. post-treatment survival is good, one must discuss the options of fertility preservation with a treating doctor for certain medical illnesses women are more likely to lose their eggs at an early age, like premature ovarian insufficiency, endometriosis, mosaic turner, and certain autoimmune disorders. They can consider doing egg or embryo freezing.

These are certain fertility preservation options and techniques which can be considered by women-

Embryo cryopreservation
This process is also known as embryo banking or embryo freezing. Embryo cryopreservation is freezing one or more embryos to save them for future use. It involves a procedure named in vitro fertilization where eggs are harvested from a woman’s ovary and are combined with sperm in the laboratory to form embryos. Embryos are then frozen for future use 

Oocyte cryopreservation
Mature oocyte cryopreservation is a procedure practised to save a woman's ability to conceive in the future. Here, the eggs are harvested from a woman’s ovaries and then the eggs are frozen, when women want to get pregnant eggs are thawed and fertilized, and resulting embryos are transferred back to the women’s uterus.

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 Ovarian Transposition 
Also known as oophoropexy, it is a fertility preservation procedure to help a woman remain fertile by preventing damage to the ovaries during radiation therapy. The ovaries are surgically repositioned in the pelvis during this procedure to prevent radiation exposure. Ovarian transposition is useful for women to conceive after radiation therapy that causes infertility.

It is a technique where ovarian cortical tissue is frozen in the form of small strips and later can be transplanted back into the women’s body when she is cancer free. It is done laparoscopically.

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