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What Options available to Preserve and Sustain Fertility Function during Cancer Treatment

Oncofertility has opened a new doorway in medicine for patients undergoing cancer treatment by preserving and maintaining fertility reproductive options, contrary to the past ten years “families after cancer”, would not have been possible. Dr. Terese Woodruff developed Oncofertility Consortium a nationwide network of doctors lead by Northwestern University researchers provide a source of information, and options for fertility preservation, patients undergoing cancer treatment. 1 As well, consortium provides training in oncofertility and discusses various ethical, legal concerns regarding this new field of medicine.13 Currently available interactive website for cancer patients: information how cancer treatment can effect fertility and what methods available to prevent impaired reproduction. 2 Twenty – One Million Dollar grant awarded by the National Institute of Health (HIH) for research in the field of Oncofertility. 3

The National Cancer Act of 1971 saved many lives by providing the necessary research, detection, diagnosis, and treatment for cancer conducted by the National Cancer Institute. However, treatment options for cancer unfortunately for men and women damage permanently reproductive capability. 4 In the issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology reported group of chemotherapy drugs or alkylating Agents risked infertility. Also, Total body irradiation (or a combination of chemotherapy) linked to a high risk of infertility. 5

In 2006, Dr. Teresa Woodruff (Feinberg School of Medicine – Northwestern University) and Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Feiberg established a new field of medical study referred to as Oncofertility (3): Objective goal ensure future fertility function remains healthy during time receiving cancer treatment. Also, provide cancer patients and their families options for cryopreservation (Preserves cells or whole tissue in low sub-zero temperatures 14 .): Modern technology freezes eggs and ovarian tissue for future reproduction. Published in October 2007: Oncofertility: Fertility Preservation for Cancer Survivors by Teresa K. Woodruff, Ph.D. (Editor) and Karrie Ann Snyder, Ph.D. (editor). 4

One method of Cryopreservation instantaneously freezes eggs removed from a woman’s ovaries (Referred to as oocyte cryopreservation 10) before undergoing chemotherapy for cancer treatment. Besides health concerns, women choose to freeze their extracted healthy eggs early in life, pursuing first in their life’s career, travel or other goals, before a future pregnancy. 10 Cryopreservation prevents ice crystals from forming on eggs or survival of eggs is ninety – eight percent of the time. Compared to traditional freezing techniques prevented eggs from being fertilized because damaged from ice crystals forming. 6 Since the 1950’s reproductive cryopreservation have been freezing sperm. 10

Dr. Woodruff perusing a technique and clinical research program utilizing cryopreservation by freezing one of a woman’s ovaries (Before undergoing cancer treatment or chemotherapy at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.7 During an outpatient procedure called a laproscopy one ovary is surgically removed. 8 “Few ovaries have been cryopreserved, Woodruff said, and she only knows of one case (German scientists reported successfully re-transplanted ovarian tissues 9) in which a pregnancy resulted from the previous frozen tissue when it was re-implanted in the woman it was originally removed from.” 7

Developed at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, a consortium headed by

Dr. Teresa Woodruff and Thomas J. Watkins Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology: Twenty – one million dollar research (funded by National Institute of Health 12) clinical, education, and research program for fertility health concerns or grave consequences attributed to cancer treatment. 11 A network of doctors and scientists work together formulate strategies for people diagnosed with cancer and other disease, fertility (reproductive health) preservation options. 12 Topics of discussion in the consortium include; “What are the ethical and legal concerns regarding the use of advanced reproductive technologies in cancer patients.” 13

Web-site Myoncofertility.org provides comprehensive information regarding oncofertility for fertility preservation: Patients, parents, animation videos (More than 200 expert videos and survivor stories), resources, support and information provided by Dr. Teresa Woodruff. “In the future, Myoncofertilty.org will allow patients to connect with other survivors via a message board and to post their own personal stories and videos.” The web-site was unveiled on September 14, 2008. 11


1.) What is Oncofertility Consortium – http://www.myoncofertility.org/articles/what_oncofertility_consortium

2.) New tool guides doctors to save cancer patients fertility –


3.) Oncofertility – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oncofertility

4.) Oncofertility: Fertility Preservation for Cancer Survivors – http://search.barnesandnoble.com/booksearch/isbnInquiry.asp?r=1&ISBN=9780387722924&ourl=Oncofertility%2FTeresa%2DK%2DWoodruff

5.) Cancer Treatment and Infertility – http://fertility-treatment-types.suite101.com/article.cfm/fertility_treatment_options_for_cancer_patients

6.) Cryopreservation may allow cancer patients to preserve fertility – http://www.doctorslounge.com/fertility/articles/advances/cryopreservation_cancer/index.htm

7.) Freezing Ovaries May Preserve Fertility – http://www.livescience.com/health/061130_frozen_ovaries.html

8.) Oncofertility Research – http://www.feinberg.northwestern.edu/obgyn/divisions/fertpreservation/oncofertility.htm

9.) Cryopresserving Ovaries – http://www.nextninemonths.com/50226711/cryopreserving_ovaries.php

10.) Egg Freezing – http://www.rscbayarea.com/infertility_explained/egg_freezing.html

11.) New Web Site Helps Cancer Patients Explore Fertility Preservation – http://www.northwestern.edu/newscenter/stories/2008/09/woodruffweb.html

12.) New tool guides doctors to save cancer patients fertility fertility – http://www.sciencecodex.com/new_tool_guides_doctors_to_save_cancer_patients_fertility

13.) Oncofertility Consortium Goals – http://pennhealth.com/obgyn/gynonc_news/fall07/goals.html

14.) Cryopreservation – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cryopreservation