New Clinical Procedure Preserves Fertility In Young Cancer Patients

By Arvin Matthew, Parent Herald June 06, 03:50 am
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Parents of young cancer patients now have another reason to not dread chemotherapy. A new clinical procedure has been proven effective in preserving the fertility of young cancer patients who will be undergoing the life-saving albeit cell-stopping treatment.

Saving Up On Reproductive Tissue

KSAT 12 noted that the procedure involves removing a girl's ovary before chemotherapy and freezing it for future use. Dr. Erin Rowell, a pediatric surgeon at Lurie Children's Hospital in Chicago, said there's also a similar procedure which preserves the sperm in boys.

"The ovary is actually sectioned into very thin strips so that later on down the road, when that tissue is ready to be used, it's not necessary to thaw or unfreeze the whole ovary at one time," she explained. "You can unfreeze just the strips that are needed."

Rowell also cited the case of a 5-month-old cancer patient who had one-half of his testicle removed. She said the specimen was enough to preserve the boy's fertility since it "gave plenty of tissue to be frozen for later use."

The fertility-preserving procedure, which is now being offered at 18 hospitals in the US, has its roots in Europe. US doctors only began adopting the method after it worked for one cancer patient in Belgium. The 28-year-old mother successfully gave birth after doctors restored her fertility via her frozen ovary tissue which was removed when she was just 13 years old.

The Bane Of Chemotherapy

Parents can be forgiven for having second thoughts regarding their child's chemotherapy sessions. Like many other live-saving treatments, chemotherapy also has its fair share of side effects.

According to Web MD, chemotherapy is very useful in stopping the growth of cancerous cells that spread and divide quickly. However, it cannot tell the difference between good and bad cells. Healthy cells that divide quickly could also be negatively affected. This includes the healthy cells in the intestines, hair and reproductive system.

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