Thanks to research and treatment advances over the past few decades, most children diagnosed with cancer now live on to pursue full adult lives. To ensure that those children will one day have the option to become parents, families must consider the risk of infertility when deciding about cancer treatment.
Researchers and health care providers have made progress in minimizing the side effects of cancer treatment without reducing its effectiveness, allowing many cancer survivors to have children after spontaneous recovery of fertility. However, some cancers require rigorous treatment that almost always leads to permanent infertility. But there is hope for those families through fertility preservation.
Mayo Clinic's Fertility Preservation Program offers several options for fertility preservation, depending on the child's age, stage of puberty, diagnosis and proposed treatment plan. Both ovarian and testicular tissue cryopreservation is possible.
"We hope the pediatric Fertility Preservation Program brings a lot of optimism for the future for these children," says Dr. Asma Chattha, chair of Pediatric Gynecology at Mayo Clinic. "They're obviously fighting an uphill battle. It's a very difficult time in their lives. But barring none, I've always found the conversation surrounding fertility preservation to be a source of hope for families."
In recognition of International Childhood Cancer Day on Tuesday, Feb. 15, Dr. Chattha joins the Mayo Clinic Q&A Podcast to discuss what patients and their families should consider when making decisions related to fertility preservation, and the steps involved in the process.
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