Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Planning for life beyond a cancer diagnosis: Clinicians offer options to protect fertility prior to cancer treatment

Date:
October 24, 2011
Source:
Northwestern Memorial Hospital
Summary:
A dedicated fertility preservation patient navigator can guide newly diagnosed cancer patients through a hopeful process -- preserving their future ability to have children in the face of life-saving, yet fertility-threatening treatments.

Five years ago, Sheri Scott was beginning a new chapter in her life. The recently engaged 31-year-old was eagerly browsing bridal magazines and busy planning for her big day. Unfortunately, just weeks following her engagement, Scott was diagnosed with breast cancer. Suddenly, she was juggling medical appointments and planning a double mastectomy instead of a wedding. Soon after her diagnosis, Scott was approached by her doctor at Northwestern Memorial Hospital about preserving her fertility. He explained that cancer treatment could compromise her fertility and stated there were options available if she wanted to preserve her chances of having children. In that moment, having a family was the farthest thing from her mind, but the conversation sparked a decision that would change her life forever.

Related Articles


"When my doctor suggested I consider in vitro fertilization (IVF), I was taken back. I hadn't really thought about kids. We just got engaged and I was scared that I wasn't even going to see my wedding day. The last thing on my mind was starting a family," said Scott.

While Scott was consumed by her diagnosis, her doctors were looking to the future. "When a woman, man or teenage girl or boy is diagnosed with cancer, there is only a brief window of time to learn about options for preserving their fertility before treatment," said Ralph R. Kazer, MD,reproductive endocrinologist at Northwestern Memorial and professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. "Once a patient begins chemotherapy or radiation, they are at risk of losing their ability to have children in the future."

When Scott realized there was a good chance that chemotherapy would leave her infertile she and her fiancι opted for emergency IVF. Doctors at Northwestern Memorial worked quickly to harvest her eggs, fertilize them with her fiancι's sperm and freeze them for use later in life. The outpatient procedure was completed in a couple weeks, a process that usually can take more than a month.

Five years after making that life-changing decision, Scott is cancer-free, married and the mother to twin baby girls, Addison Grace and Avery Jane. "They are my entire world," said Scott. "I am grateful I chose to preserve my embryos and more importantly, that the option was presented to me. If my doctor hadn't mentioned fertility preservation, I may not have been able to have kids and experience the joy I have today."

At the time of her diagnosis, Scott was one of the first patients to take part in the Northwestern's Fertility Preservation Program. The term oncofertility, which describes the intersection of oncology and reproductive medicine, coined by Teresa Woodruff, PhD, Chief of the Division of Fertility Preservation in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, was new, and only a small percentage of oncologists were partnering with reproductive endocrinologists to offer options such as emergency IVF prior to cancer treatment. Over the last five years, the program has rapidly advanced and fertility preservation is more commonly discussed, allowing men, women and even adolescents, the option to undergo fertility saving procedures prior to cancer therapy.

At Northwestern Memorial, a dedicated fertility preservation patient navigator guides newly diagnosed cancer patients through a hopeful process -- preserving their future ability to have children in the face of life-saving, yet fertility-threatening treatments. Northwestern Memorial in partnership with Feinberg School of Medicine is the first group in the world known to offer a dedicated fertility preservation patient navigator.

"In the past, when a patient was diagnosed with cancer the only focus was to get them into surgery and through chemotherapy or radiation. It's my job to make sure each patient understands the consequences certain therapies may have on their fertility, so they can make an informed decision regarding whether or not they wish to undergo fertility preservation prior to treatment," said Kristin Smith, fertility preservation navigator in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Centerof Northwestern University at Northwestern Memorial.

Research at Northwestern has expanded the options for fertility preservation over the years, which now includes freezing ovarian tissue and sperm extraction in addition to embryo, egg and sperm banking. Northwestern researchers continue to explore several other fertility preservation techniques.

"Many younger patients with cancer are surviving and living healthy long lives. It's our job to do everything possible so patients can look forward to a life that looks as much like the life they had planned on before the day they were diagnosed," said Woodruff, who also developed and is principal investigator of the national Oncofertility Consortium, a National Institute of Health (NIH) funded network of doctors and scientists working to provide improved fertility preservation options for people diagnosed with cancer and other diseases.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Northwestern Memorial Hospital. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Northwestern Memorial Hospital. "Planning for life beyond a cancer diagnosis: Clinicians offer options to protect fertility prior to cancer treatment." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 October 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111024113133.htm>.
Northwestern Memorial Hospital. (2011, October 24). Planning for life beyond a cancer diagnosis: Clinicians offer options to protect fertility prior to cancer treatment. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111024113133.htm
Northwestern Memorial Hospital. "Planning for life beyond a cancer diagnosis: Clinicians offer options to protect fertility prior to cancer treatment." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111024113133.htm (accessed December 21, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

The Best Tips to Curb Holiday Carbs

The Best Tips to Curb Holiday Carbs

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) — It's hard to resist those delicious but fattening carbs we all crave during the winter months, but there are some ways to stay satisfied without consuming the extra calories. Vanessa Freeman (@VanessaFreeTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sierra Leone Bikers Spread the Message to Fight Ebola

Sierra Leone Bikers Spread the Message to Fight Ebola

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) — More than 100 motorcyclists hit the road to spread awareness messages about Ebola. Nearly 7,000 people have now died from the virus, almost all of them in west Africa, according to the World Health Organization. Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) — In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Best Protein-Filled Foods to Energize You for the New Year

The Best Protein-Filled Foods to Energize You for the New Year

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) — The new year is coming and nothing will energize you more for 2015 than protein-filled foods. Fitness and nutrition expert John Basedow (@JohnBasedow) gives his favorite high protein foods that will help you build muscle, lose fat and have endless energy. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins