Young people can also suffer from cancers such as leukaemia or lymphoma, as well as breast or testicular cancer. The related treatment (chemo, radiation) often reduces one's subsequent ability to conceive a child in the normal way. Patients are therefore usually advised to get their eggs or sperm frozen.
In young people, cancer is relatively rare. In Austria, the mean age at onset is about 65 years in men and 67 years in women. But some tumour types do not follow this pattern. For example, young people who are fully in the "reproductive" phase of their lives can also suffer from leukaemia or lymphoma, as well as breast or testicular cancer.
In the TFP fertility clinics, it is possible to cryopreserve female eggs before undergoing cancer therapy! Men affected can also have their sperm deep-frozen prior to initiating a chemo or radiotherapy, to be used for fertilisation at a later point.
During cryopreservation, cells and tissues are stored for long periods of time for use at a later point. This preservation of the cells takes place in liquid nitrogen at the temperature of minus 196 degrees Celsius.
Thus sperm or unfertilised eggs of cancer patients, who are threatened with infertility as a result of a tumour treatment or chemotherapy, can be preserved for use at a later date.
The retrieval of eggs is possible as part of a so-called "in-vitro maturation" procedure (without a previous hormone stimulation), but this method is only performed at a few clinics.
There is also the possibility of administering medication that protects the ovaries from chemotherapy. Finally, ovarian tissue can also be removed and frozen for transplantation at a later point. However, only a few pregnancies have been achieved worldwide with this technique.
The degree of the risk of ovarian damage resulting from chemotherapy should without fail be discussed with the patient prior to commencing the treatment. If there is a desire to have children, the attending physicians must take all measures to protect the ovaries.
Many patients with testicular cancer already have impaired fertility at the time of diagnosis.
Treatment by surgically removing one or both testes, removing lymph nodes and/or subsequent chemotherapy with aggressive substances – all these factors reduce one's subsequent ability to conceive a child in the normal way. Patients are therefore usually advised to have their sperm frozen beforehand.
What the prognosis looks like for the individual patient can only be inferred from general statistics, and not without some reservations.
Even under the most favourable conditions, cancer can progress in a way that is quite unexpected, and it always leaves its mark – not only on the body, but also on the soul.
At the TFP fertility clinics, we support patients with advice on the subject of fertility treatment while battling cancer or undergoing chemotherapy. Please contact us so that we can advise you in detail on your particular case.