Specialty Care

Oncofertility Program

Oncofertility is the bridge between cancer and reproductive health.

Life-saving cancer treatments like surgery, radiation and chemotherapy can irreversibly impact one’s endocrine system, leaving young men, women and children at risk for infertility, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, depression, anxiety and premature menopause. Specialists in reproductive medicine who understand how cancer therapy may impact specific patients diagnosed with cancer practice this emerging field of medicine called Oncofertility. Our specialists, consult with patients on fertility preservation, pubertal transition, premature menopause, sexual health and family planning post cancer treatment including assisted and third party reproduction.

Contact us at 718-283-8600 for an immediate appointment with the Oncofertility program director, Dr. Diana Chavkin

More than ever, cancer patients are surviving their disease and can look forward to the future. The ability to have children and build a family is important to cancer survivors. Loss of fertility and early menopause can be side effects of cancer treatment.

Oncofertility is a field that bridges oncology (the study of cancer) and women’s health to expand and provide good options for preserving fertility in patients facing fertility-threatening therapies.

The Oncofertility Program at GENESIS aims to explore and preserve the reproductive future of patients facing fertility-threatening cancer treatments.

  • To provide timely access and comprehensive explanations of fertility preservation options to patients facing fertility-threatening treatments.
  • To provide outstanding care of patients through their fertility preservation treatments.
  • To serve as a resource in the community for patients and healthcare providers seeking up-to-date oncofertility information.

In Vitro Fertilization and Embryo Banking
Embryo banking is the most established form of fertility preservation and is an excellent option for women who have a male partner or are interested in using donor sperm. For breast cancer patients, there are specific ovarian stimulation protocols that may be considered to reduce exposure to estrogen. Embryos are frozen for future use and result in excellent pregnancy rate.

Egg Banking
In recent years, significant advances in freezing eggs for future use have occurred. Data suggests that the use of frozen/thawed eggs may have similar success as fresh eggs.

Ovarian Tissue Banking
One ovary is removed through a minor surgical procedure called laparoscopy. The portion of ovary containing eggs is frozen for later use. This option is still experimental but may be the best option for pre-pubertal girls or a woman who must start their cancer treatments immediately.

Sperm Banking
Freezing (cryopreservation) of sperm is the most successful way for men to preserve fertility before cancer treatment. The sperm remain frozen, or “banked”, until you need them. Freezing for many years does not damage the sperm. Even if there is no sperm in the semen, procedures such as testicular sperm extraction can be performed to obtain testicular tissue that may contain sperm.

Fertility Sparing Surgery
For patients who will receive abdominal or pelvic radiation, it may be possible to move the ovaries surgically out of the field of radiation. For patients with early stage gynecologic cancers, it may be possible to conserve reproductive organs at cancer surgery.

Additional Options
Preimplantation genetic diagnosis, ovarian suppression, ovarian shielding, psychological support and financial counseling are among other options discussed at a fertility preservation consultation

After cancer therapy, survivors who desire to have children may wish to have a consultation with a reproductive endocrinologist about fertility potential.

Fertility Treatment & Assisted Reproduction
For women who are subfertile after cancer therapy, traditional assisted reproductive technologies may be appropriate to help some cancer survivors achieve pregnancy.

Third Party Reproduction: Egg Donation
For cancer survivors who become menopausal with cancer treatment, egg donation is a highly effective option for becoming pregnant.

Third Party Reproduction: Gestational Surrogacy
A gestational surrogate is a woman who will carry a pregnancy for intended parents. Because some women are unable to carry a pregnancy after cancer therapy, having a gestational surrogate carry their pregnancy may be an option for these cancer survivors.

Adoption
Adoption is a viable option that can be considered by anyone seeking parenthood. The process takes time (6 months to 3 years) and costs vary greatly. The Oncofertility Consortium has compiled a list of adoption agencies that would like to work with cancer survivors.

Thus far, research on the safety of pregnancy after cancer is reassuring.

Article: Finding Options for Cancer Survivors who Want to Have Children

According to a report by the national cancer institute, by 2015 one out of 250 adults will be a survivor of childhood cancer (Tangier, 2003). The good news is that, with early detection and rapidly improving treatment options, afflicted men and women live substantially longer than they have in the past: approximately 77% of reproductive aged patients with cancer now live at least 5 years after initial diagnosis and treatment.

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