This year, there will be an estimated 1.6 million Americans diagnosed with cancer.(1) Although serious, this diagnosis no longer carries the bleak prognosis as before, due to recent treatment advances dramatically improving survival. Optimization of the quality of life for patients after cancer treatment has become a growing priority. For many cancer survivors, this may mean the ability to have or expand a family. Being educated about the impact of cancer treatment on one’s fertility and the available options to preserve fertility can be empowering and provide a sense of control over one’s future quality of life.
If you have been diagnosed with cancer and are considering a treatment plan, it is imperative that you discuss your fertility options with your healthcare team as soon as possible. Fertility can be damaged even by the first cancer therapy session and most fertility preservation procedures need to be completed prior to starting chemotherapy or radiation.(2) Taking the time to research your options rarely interferes with the efficacy of your cancer treatment, and most reproductive specialists will see cancer patients within one or two days after being referred.(3) Some questions you might ask include:
It is important to assess the impact of your individualized cancer treatment plan on your future reproductive capacity. There are several factors that can influence the degree of fertility impairment.
There are many well-established and emerging procedures available for fertility preservation. For women, some options that have proven to be successful include:(6)
Options for fertility preservation for men include:(7)
It is important to note that these are just some of the treatments available to you. Your reproductive specialist will work closely with your oncologist to tailor your fertility preservation plan with your cancer treatment plan as to optimize results for both.
Ask your oncologist or reproductive specialist for resources that can help you access savings programs for both treatment and medication. Resources you might consider include:
(1)“Cancer Facts & Figures 2013.” American Cancer Society.” 2013. Web. http://www.cancer.org/research/cancerfactsfigures/cancerfactsfigures/cancer-facts-figures-2013.
(2)“What Cancer Patients Should Know About Fertility,” Fertility Authority. March 2013. Web, http://www.fertilityauthority.com/articles/what-cancer-patients-should-know-about-fertility.
(3)“What Cancer Patients Should Know About Fertility,” Fertility Authority. March 2013. Web, http://www.fertilityauthority.com/articles/what-cancer-patients-should-know-about-fertility.
(4)“Fertility and Cancer.” American Cancer Society. 19 November 2012. Web. http://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatmentsandsideeffects/index.
(5)“Fertility and Cancer.” American Cancer Society. 19 November 2012. Web. http://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatmentsandsideeffects/index.
(6)“Fertility and Cancer.” American Cancer Society. 19 November 2012. Web. http://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatmentsandsideeffects/physicalsideeffects/sexualsideeffectsinwomen/fertilityandwomenwithcancer/index.
(7)“Fertility and Cancer.” American Cancer Society. 19 November 2012. Web. http://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatmentsandsideeffects/physicalsideeffects/sexualsideeffectsinmen/fertilityandmenwithcancer/index.