What are the effects of cancer on fertility?

Oncofertility: Oncology and Assisted Reproduction

There's a small window of time available for a patient diagnosed with cancer to make decisions regarding reproduction and whether to attempt to preserve his or her fertility. Studies have indicated, however, that people who have explored their fertility options are more at peace as they move forward to put their primary focus on fighting the disease [source: National Cancer Institute].

The two most widely used and tested options for men and women wanting to have a family at some point following cancer treatment are freezing sperm or embryos and banking those sperm or embryos for use at a later date. Another option that is in the experimental stage involves taking a biopsy from a girl or boy in cancer treatment. In the case of a boy, a piece of testicular tissue is removed and frozen in the hope that stem cells from sperm can be grown in the future. Likewise, one ovary or a biopsy of an ovary can be taken from a girl, frozen, and potentially used for reimplanatation when she is cancer free and of child-bearing age [source: National Cancer Institute].

Cancer survivors are often concerned that the treatments they have undergone could result in birth defects in the children they ultimately choose to have. Initial studies, however, have indicated that while the children of cancer survivors are more prone to premature birth and low birth weight, they are no more likely to be born with defects than any other babies [source: National Cancer Institute].

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