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Fertility Preservation for Cancer Patients

Dr. Eric Widra, Medical Director at Shady Grove Fertility
Dr. Eric Widra, Medical Director at Shady Grove Fertility

by Eric A. Widra, M.D.

Every year, millions of men and women worldwide are diagnosed with cancer prior to completing their families. For some, the very treatment that will allow them to overcome cancer may greatly impact their ability to have children in the future. While preserving a man’s fertility has proven to be successful with sperm freezing, the options for women have been more limited. With recent advances in technology, mainly vitrification, there is new hope, and now women have a more reliable option when it comes to freezing their eggs or embryos for use post-cancer. “At Shady Grove Fertility, we are committed to a rapid, multidisciplinary approach to provide patients the best and safest options to preserve their fertility during cancer treatment.” explains Eric A. Widra, M.D.

How Cancer Impacts a Woman’s Fertility

When it comes to overcoming cancer, some treatment regimens may have a negative impact on fertility.

Radiation: When radiation treatment is centered around the lower abdomen, there is a risk that the treatment could damage or destroy the ovaries, depending on the size and location of the tumor and the radiation dosage prescribed. When ovarian function is damaged or destroyed, women stop producing female hormones, go into menopause, and as a result can lose their ability to conceive.

Chemotherapy: Depending on the woman’s age, the type of chemotherapy prescribed, and the dosage, chemotherapy has been found to damage the ovaries while attacking the cancer, resulting in premature failure of the ovaries.

Cancer of the Reproductive Organs: When cancer is found in the reproductive organs, such as the uterus, the best treatment option may be surgery to remove the affected organs.

The Process of Preserving Fertility

Knock Out CancerOnce diagnosed, it is important to move quickly as to not delay treatment more than needed. Shady Grove Fertility has a dedicated cancer care team to help patients navigate their fertility preservation options. Their main goals are to help patients understand the available options, collaborate with the oncologist, and expedite fertility preservation treatment. Many patients can be seen by a fertility specialist within 24-48 hours of calling our office.

  • Schedule an Appointment – Please call 1.877.264.3311 to speak with a New Patient Liaison or submit a form on our website.
  • Financial Review– As soon as an appointment is scheduled, patients can expect to speak with a dedicated Oncofertility financial counselor, often times prior to their actual consultation. During this time, the counselor will help to determine possible insurance coverage and discount programs or grants from local non-profit organizations to reduce or even completely cover the cost of treatment.
  • Consultation– Meet with a physician and nurse to determine an appropriate treatment timeline to coordinate with impending radiation, chemotherapy, or surgery.
  • Testing and Treatment– Depending on the current point in your menstrual cycle, testing and treatment can usually begin within 1-2 weeks of your visit. During this time, your Shady Grove Fertility physician will work in conjunction with your oncologist to provide a holistic approach to your fertility treatment. Also during this time, patients will need to arrange for their cancer treatment to begin after egg retrieval is complete.

For men recently diagnosed with cancer, sperm preservation is available through Fairfax Cryobank. Please contact Markos Meleku at 703-968-3969 for more information.

If you or someone you know has been recently diagnosed with cancer that can impact their future fertility, call one of our offices immediately at 877-971-7755 to speak with a physician and learn what options are available.

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