Preimplantation genetic testing (PGT) of embryos during in vitro fertilization (IVF) enlightens patients of possible gene mutations prior to implantation. SGF’s in-house team of researchers continues to explore PGT as a counseling tool to optimize care for generations to come.
Washington, D.C. – National Breast Cancer Awareness Month reminds us that an estimated 700,000 people in the U.S. will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year alone, of which, up to 10 percent of cases are linked to an inherited gene mutation. Individuals and couples with known genetic diseases can turn to Shady Grove Fertility (SGF) to undergo in vitro fertilization (IVF) with preimplantation genetic testing for monogenic/single gene defects (PGT-M) to reduce the risk of passing genetic mutations to future offspring.
SGF can screen for over 280 recessive gene mutations, including diseases such as cystic fibrosis, Tay-Sachs disease, and spinal muscular atrophy. Additionally, patients at risk for dominant gene mutations, such as breast cancer or inherited forms of colon cancer, can have individualized testing for these diseases.
In 2019, SGF formed a partnership with breast cancer advocate and Previvor Founder, Allyn Rose, to educate patients on these interventions and the availability of fertility preservation prior to any cancer treatment.
“In the last letter that my mother wrote to me before her passing from metastatic breast cancer at age 50, she warned me of my family’s predisposition to cancer and rare diseases, encouraging me to undergo in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment to eliminate this disease,” says Rose, a former Miss USA and Miss America contestant, model, and the recipient of the 21st Annual Congress on Women’s Health’s Advocacy Award and a Breast Cancer Summit Lifetime Achievement Award.
While Rose is not a carrier for the breast cancer gene, she is a carrier of a rare X-linked genetic mutation called Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome. Because of this genetic mutation, there would be a 50 percent chance that her future children would also become carriers of the disease. In October 2019, Rose started her IVF journey with Kate Devine, M.D., at SGF’s K Street location in Washington, D.C., opting to undergo PGT-M to reduce the risk of having a child with an inherited condition. After 10 months of IVF treatment with SGF, Rose announced that she was pregnant in July 2020.
Nearly two years after beginning their journey with SGF, Rose and her husband Christopher announced the birth of their daughter, Yve, on April 9, 2021.
“It was an incredibly fulfilling experience welcoming my daughter into the world because it felt as if my journey had come full circle,” shares Rose. “For the last 10 years, I’ve worked as an advocate in the breast cancer community. I’ve spent years speaking on the importance of long-term perspective and highlighting my choice to undergo a preventive mastectomy in order to prolong my life and to conceive via IVF removing my rare genetic disease from my family tree. Now, I can hold my daughter in my arms and see that it was all worth it. Everything that I’ve worked towards has finally come to fruition.”
“Allyn’s story is a beacon of hope for women with increased cancer risk and other genetic risk factors,” says Dr. Devine. “IVF with PGT-M is a safe and reliable means of fertility treatment for people who want to reduce risk of known genetic mutations in their children. I’m so happy that Allyn underwent treatment to reduce her own familial breast cancer risk and that she and that her baby girl is free of Wiskott-Aldrich gene mutations.”
While Rose was proactive with preventive family-building measures, more awareness and education is needed on the topic. SGF is slated to present research findings on genetic testing in the infertility population for those at increased risk at the 2021 ASRM Scientific Congress and Expo, taking place in Baltimore from October 17–21.
The study, which was honored with the ASRM 2021 Corporate Member Council In-Training Award, concludes that an overwhelming majority of eligible fertility patients are declining cancer genetic testing despite receiving focused genetic counseling regarding the recommendation to pursue testing as well as the opportunity to potentially minimize the cancer risk of future offspring.
“Prior to initiating fertility treatment, all patients who participated in the study received focused genetic counseling informing them that if one parent has a hereditary cancer-predisposing mutation, there is a 50% risk that any child will have it too,” explains Dr. Devine, who also serves as SGF’s Director of Research. “We will continue to research the underlying ‘why’ behind these decisions to evolve future care models that offer the safest and healthiest outcomes for our patients.”
“Making the decision to pursue IVF with PGT is a very personal one,” adds Rose. “But I am a strong proponent of pursuing all options available in order to give children the best possible opportunity to thrive in life. We are so fortunate to live in a world where we can now reduce the inheritance of deadly genetic diseases via IVF. It’s such an incredible gift and I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to give my children a better outlook than I had.”
SGF is also dedicated to helping patients with cancer receive fertility preservation care. SGF has a specially trained team that works specifically with people with cancer to ensure the fertility preservation process before cancer treatment can be expedited in order that cancer treatment can quickly begin. The oncofertility team at SGF helps to guide patients through each step of the treatment process, from finding ways to afford treatment to the actual medical procedure.
If you would like to learn more about SGF’s oncofertility treatment options or to schedule an appointment, please call the New Patient Center at 1-888-761-1967 or complete this brief online form.
About Shady Grove Fertility (SGF)
SGF is a leading fertility and IVF center of excellence with more than 100,000 babies born from 30+ years of continuous innovation and patient-centered fertility care. With over 50 locations throughout the U.S. and in Santiago, Chile, SGF accepts most insurance plans and makes fertility treatment accessible and affordable through innovative financial solutions, including 100% refund guarantees for eligible patients. SGF is among the founding partner practices of US Fertility, the largest physician-owned and physician-led partnership of top-tier fertility practices nationally. Call 1-888-761-1967 to schedule a new patient appointment or visit ShadyGroveFertility.com for more information.