Fertility Preservation for Childhood Cancer Patients
Diagnoses of cancer and other life-threatening diseases in young children are devastating, and patients and their families can be overwhelmed with the immediate diagnosis and treatment of the primary disease. To further complicate the already taxing situation, life-saving treatments for cancer and other diseases, such as chemotherapy and radiation, have a potential of wiping out the patient’s fertility potential. However, there are a number of established and emerging techniques to safeguard the patient’s future fertility from potential harm from these treatments. Fertility preservation is a way to ensure that children who overcome the disease will have an option of having biological children when they are ready.
For pre-pubertal children, adult fertility preservation methods like egg freezing and sperm freezing are not feasible. For boys, testicular tissue can be frozen. For girls, tissues from the ovaries can be frozen. These tissues can be thawed and re-transplanted into the body in the future when the patients are free of cancer. Both ovarian tissue freezing for girls and testicular tissue freezing for boys can be performed quickly upon diagnosis when cancer treatments have to start almost immediately.
Discussing Fertility Preservation Options for Children
Fertility preservation for children is still considered experimental, but since research is quickly evolving, these options should be discussed with the family of the patient before gonad-toxic therapies are initiated. Close communication and collaboration between the young patient’s family members, the physicians treating the primary disease and the physicians at Fertility Preservation Center (FPC) are crucial in this time-sensitive situation. FPC’s experienced physicians will work closely with the patients’ families to thoroughly counsel them on all options.
FPC physicians are available for emergency 24-7. If you are a potential patient or a physician whose patient potentially requires fertility preservation, please call CHR’s FPC at 212-994-4400.
Norbert Gleicher, MD, leads CHR’s clinical and research efforts as Medical Director and Chief Scientist. A world-renowned specialist in reproductive endocrinology, Dr. Gleicher has published hundreds of peer-reviewed papers and lectured globally while keeping an active clinical career focused on ovarian aging, immunological issues and other difficult cases of infertility.