Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Advancements in fertility preservation provide oncology patients new options

04.01.2011
Many young people who've just learned that they have cancer also are told that the therapies that may save their lives could rob them of their ability ever to have children. Infertility caused by chemotherapy and radiation affects a sizable population: Of the 1.5 million people diagnosed with cancer in 2009, nearly 10 percent were still in their reproductive years.

The good news, according to an article in the January issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings (http://www.mayoclinicproceedings.com ), is that techniques to harvest and store reproductive cells have vastly improved in the last several years. "Fertility preservation is still an emerging discipline," says Mayo Clinic reproductive endocrinologist (http://www.mayoclinic.org/reproductive-medicine/) Jani Jensen, M.D. (http://www.mayoclinic.org/bio/13767992.html) , lead author of the paper, "but rapid advances in technology in the last several years are now providing new options for patients."

In the review, a team of Mayo researchers look at both long-standing and emerging fertility preservation technologies. Freezing sperm remains a stable and reliable technique, but one approach that has had considerable success in the last five years involves freezing eggs harvested from women. "Cryopreservation of eggs used to be considered the Holy Grail of therapy, not just for cancer patients, but for any woman who wanted to halt the biological clock," says Dr. Jensen. Oocytes are particularly fragile cells that rupture easily, and even though research to preserve them dates back to the 1970s, the first successful birth from a stored egg didn't occur until the mid-1980s. "But in the last five years," Dr. Jensen says, "there have been considerable improvements in freezing technology. Since 2004, there have been thousands of babies born worldwide from frozen eggs."

One long-standing and familiar approach available to cancer patients remains the freezing of embryos. "Embryos are hardy, and can survive the freezing and thawing process better than individual eggs, so they actually have a better chance of creating a successful pregnancy," Dr. Jensen explains. The approach may be a good fit for patients who are married or have a long-term partner, she adds, but it's not necessarily an answer for the youngest cancer patients.

One scientific challenge that research is now addressing is cultivating and storing sperm and egg tissue from prepubescent cancer patients. "There's promising work emerging that's striving to prompt the maturation of this tissue in the laboratory," she says. "The hope is that the tissue could be used later in patients' lives to create pregnancies. To date, there haven't been pregnancies that have resulted from this approach, but the work is under way."

Despite advances in fertility preservation treatments, a hurdle that remains is informing patients about the options that are available just as they are learning about the cancer treatment that lies ahead of them. Timing is of the essence, notes Dr. Jensen. "Fertility preservation treatments can take two to three weeks, and it's better to take the steps [to harvest and freeze cells] before cancer care begins," she says.

Though most cancer doctors follow the guidelines established four years ago by the American Society of Clinical Oncology and inform patients about the treatment-related risks of infertility, studies have shown that only about half of oncologists then refer patients to reproductive specialists. "Our goal is to increase awareness among providers who can make referrals so that patients have options before they undergo essential treatments for cancer," Dr. Jensen says. "It's estimated that one out of every 250 adults today is a cancer survivor. For this huge group of patients that have a long lifespan ahead of them and, hopefully, excellent health, we hope to provide the opportunity to live a normal life. For many people, that includes having children."

A peer-reviewed journal, Mayo Clinic Proceedings publishes original articles and reviews dealing with clinical and laboratory medicine, clinical research, basic science research and clinical epidemiology. Mayo Clinic Proceedings is published monthly by Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research as part of its commitment to the medical education of physicians. The journal has been published for more than 80 years and has a circulation of 130,000 nationally and internationally. Articles are available online at www.mayoclinicproceedings.com.

About Mayo Clinic

Mayo Clinic is a nonprofit worldwide leader in medical care, research and education for people from all walks of life. For more information, visit www.mayoclinic.org/about/ and www.mayoclinic.org/news.

Contact:
Rebecca Eisenman
507-284-5005 (days)
507-284-2511 (evenings)
e-mail: newsbureau@mayo.edu

Rebecca Eisenman | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.mayo.edu

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht New way to target advanced breast cancers
24.09.2018 | Jackson Laboratory

nachricht Neutrons produce first direct 3D maps of water during cell membrane fusion
21.09.2018 | DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Scientists present new observations to understand the phase transition in quantum chromodynamics

The building blocks of matter in our universe were formed in the first 10 microseconds of its existence, according to the currently accepted scientific picture. After the Big Bang about 13.7 billion years ago, matter consisted mainly of quarks and gluons, two types of elementary particles whose interactions are governed by quantum chromodynamics (QCD), the theory of strong interaction. In the early universe, these particles moved (nearly) freely in a quark-gluon plasma.

This is a joint press release of University Muenster and Heidelberg as well as the GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung in Darmstadt.

Then, in a phase transition, they combined and formed hadrons, among them the building blocks of atomic nuclei, protons and neutrons. In the current issue of...

Im Focus: Patented nanostructure for solar cells: Rough optics, smooth surface

Thin-film solar cells made of crystalline silicon are inexpensive and achieve efficiencies of a good 14 percent. However, they could do even better if their shiny surfaces reflected less light. A team led by Prof. Christiane Becker from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) has now patented a sophisticated new solution to this problem.

"It is not enough simply to bring more light into the cell," says Christiane Becker. Such surface structures can even ultimately reduce the efficiency by...

Im Focus: New soft coral species discovered in Panama

A study in the journal Bulletin of Marine Science describes a new, blood-red species of octocoral found in Panama. The species in the genus Thesea was discovered in the threatened low-light reef environment on Hannibal Bank, 60 kilometers off mainland Pacific Panama, by researchers at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama (STRI) and the Centro de Investigación en Ciencias del Mar y Limnología (CIMAR) at the University of Costa Rica.

Scientists established the new species, Thesea dalioi, by comparing its physical traits, such as branch thickness and the bright red colony color, with the...

Im Focus: New devices based on rust could reduce excess heat in computers

Physicists explore long-distance information transmission in antiferromagnetic iron oxide

Scientists have succeeded in observing the first long-distance transfer of information in a magnetic group of materials known as antiferromagnets.

Im Focus: Finding Nemo's genes

An international team of researchers has mapped Nemo's genome

An international team of researchers has mapped Nemo's genome, providing the research community with an invaluable resource to decode the response of fish to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

"Boston calling": TU Berlin and the Weizenbaum Institute organize a conference in USA

21.09.2018 | Event News

One of the world’s most prominent strategic forums for global health held in Berlin in October 2018

03.09.2018 | Event News

4th Intelligent Materials - European Symposium on Intelligent Materials

27.08.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Matter falling into a black hole at 30 percent of the speed of light

24.09.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

NASA balloon mission captures electric blue clouds

24.09.2018 | Earth Sciences

New way to target advanced breast cancers

24.09.2018 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>