IVF Treatments after fighting cancer
Wednesday, October 14, 2020
After successfully fighting cancer, life goes on, and having a child is an important milestone that many cancer survivors want. However, cancer treatments such as radiation and medical therapies can affect fertility, or the ability to conceive.
For women, the risk of fertility issues due to cancer treatment can vary depending upon a patient’s age. About 20 percent of female patients between the ages of 15 and 30 develop premature ovarian insufficiency because of their cancer treatment, and that number increases to more than 42 percent for female patients over age 30.
Pregnancy after cancer treatment
Often, pregnancy after cancer treatment is safe for both the mother and baby. Pregnancy does not seem to raise the risk of cancer coming back. Still, some women may be told to wait a number of years before trying to have a baby.
Some health care providers recommend that women not get pregnant in the first 6 months after finishing chemotherapy. They say that any damaged eggs will leave the body within those first 6 months. Other health care providers suggest waiting 2 to 5 years before trying to have a baby. This is because the cancer may be more likely to come back in the earlier years. And cancer treatment during pregnancy is more complicated.
The amount of time depends on:
– The type of cancer and stage.
– Type of treatment.
– A woman’s age.
Risk of children getting cancer
Many people who have had cancer worry that their children may get cancer, too. Research shows that children of people with cancer and cancer survivors do not have a higher risk of the disease. But a few cancers are passed from parents to children through genes. If you have one of these hereditary cancers, there may be higher risk. Talk with your health care provider or a genetic counselor about having children. They can help you understand cancer risk and genetics.
Many children have been born using fertility treatments. There do not appear to be any long-term health risks to the child. There is also no evidence that fertility treatments increase the risk of your cancer coming back. Your fertility doctor can give you more information about any possible risks with these treatments.
Intra-uterine insemination (IUI)
After cancer treatment some women find having sex difficult. If your fertility has come back, you may choose to have sperm put into your womb at the time when your ovaries are most likely to release an egg. This procedure only takes a few minutes and feels similar to having a smear test.
In vitro fertilisation (IVF)
Eggs are mixed with the sperm in a laboratory to see if an egg fertilises and becomes an embryo. The embryo is then transferred into the womb.
Intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI)
A fine needle is used to inject a single sperm directly into an egg. This is done in the laboratory. If an egg is successfully fertilised, the embryo can be placed in your womb to grow into.
Many women decide to freeze eggs before they go through treatment. The frozen eggs can be used for IVF and IVF-ICSI treatments once you have recovered, which may give you more options if the eggs in your body are affected by the chemotherapy drugs.