Pregnancy Issues for Cancer

Fertility Issues for Cancer

Fertility Preservation Options

The effect of treatment on fertility is a special concern for young cancer patients. An oncologist, a patient advocate, and young adult cancer survivors discuss options for preserving fertility, current research questions, and policy concerns.

It is important to talk with your doctor about how treatment may affect your fertility. Learn about all of your fertility preservation options and see a fertility specialist before starting treatment. Research has found that although discussions of fertility preservation between doctors and young adult cancer patients are becoming more common, improvements are still needed.

Organizations such as MyOncofertility.org and LIVESTRONG Fertility also provide fertility-related support and advice to young adults and health care professionals. Fertility issues are also discussed in So Others May Benefit: Young Cancer Patients and Survivors Take Part in Oncofertility Research and Preserving Fertility While Battling Cancer.

Source: NCI (NIH)1

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Fertility and reproduction

  • Treatment for cancer may cause infertility in childhood cancer survivors.
  • Childhood cancer survivors may have late effects that affect pregnancy.
  • There are methods that may be used to help childhood cancer survivors have children.
  • Children of childhood cancer survivors are not affected by the parentís previous treatment for cancer.

Source: NCI (NIH)2

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Late effects that affect the testicles may cause certain health problems.

Late effects of the testicles and related health problems include the following:

  • Low sperm count: A zero sperm count or a low sperm count may be temporary or permanent. This depends on the radiation dose and schedule, the area of the body treated, and the age when treated.
  • Infertility: The inability to father a child.
  • Retrograde ejaculation: Very little or no semen comes out of the penis during orgasm.

After treatment with chemotherapy or radiation, the bodyís ability to make sperm may come back over time.

Source: NCI (NIH)3

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Treatment for cancer may cause infertility in childhood cancer survivors.

The risk of infertility increases after treatment with the following:

Source: NCI (NIH)4

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There are methods that may be used to help childhood cancer survivors have children.

The following methods may be used so that childhood cancer survivors can have children:

  • Freezing the eggs or sperm before cancer treatment in patients who have reached puberty.
  • Testicular sperm extraction (the removal of a small amount of tissue containing sperm from the testicle).
  • Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (an egg is fertilized with one sperm that is injected into the egg outside the body).
  • In vitro fertilization (IVF) (eggs and sperm are placed together in a container, giving the sperm the chance to enter an egg).

Source: NCI (NIH)5

Pregnancy Issues for Cancer

Childhood cancer survivors may have late effects that affect pregnancy.

Late effects on pregnancy include increased risk of the following:

Source: NCI (NIH)6

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References

  1. Source: NCI (NIH): cancer.gov/ types/ aya
  2. Source: NCI (NIH): cancer.gov/ types/ childhood-cancers/ late-effects-pdq
  3. ibid.
  4. ibid.
  5. ibid.
  6. ibid.

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Note: This site is for informational purposes only and is not medical advice. See your doctor or other qualified medical professional for all your medical needs.