Preserving Fertility for Cancer Survivors

Written by yvonnethornton on May 6th, 2013

Cancer is a devastating diagnosis for a woman of any age, but for a young woman who is hoping to eventually start a family, there can be a host of other problems associated with this disease. No matter what type of cancer a woman faces, it can have severely damaging effects on her reproductive health. Radiation therapy and chemotherapy can cause major problems with a woman’s eggs, and can even make them not viable for future reproduction. Women who suffer from ovarian and cervical cancers may even be forced to undergo a full or partial hysterectomy.

For many young women, the second question they ask after determining their prognosis is what effect their cancer will have on their future ability to start a family. Fortunately, advances in science over the past few decades have made it entirely possible for a woman to preserve her fertility after a cancer diagnosis. There are many options available for women who want to start a family after they have recovered from their illness. However, it is important to note that many of these options must be pursued early on in a cancer diagnosis—especially if the woman is choosing to freeze her eggs for future in vitro fertilization use.

Many women may see egg freezing as their only choice, and will not want to pursue this avenue when undergoing cancer treatment—this may leave them feeling as if they might never have the chance to start a family. This study shows that most women believe egg and embryo banking is their only option. This is most certainly not the case. Women who are concerned about their potential for reproduction should talk with their doctors and learn all the options before they give it up for a lost cause. There are many mothers out there who have had their children after surviving this horrible disease. I invite people to read my book, “Inside Information For Women”, for more information on the effects of breast and other cancers on the female body.


– Yvonne S. Thornton, M. D., M. P. H.


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