8% of women diagnosed with cancer are under 40 years old.
One of the best news in the field of medicine in recent years is that the survival of patients with cancer has significantly increased with new oncological therapies.
The bad news is that in many cases, this results in a drastic reduction of their reproductive potential and, therefore, the impossibility of achieving a pregnancy in the future, depending on the patient’s age and the type of proposed oncological treatment.
30% of women with cancer never discussed the issue of infertility with their oncologist. Of those who do discuss it, in half of the cases, it is the patient who brings up the topic during the consultation.
Most international surveys show that one of the main concerns of women undergoing chemotherapy or radiotherapy treatment is their fertility after treatment.
Fortunately, a new laboratory technique for egg freezing, called “vitrification,” offers excellent chances of achieving a future pregnancy in these patients.
Proper coordination between the oncologist and the reproduction team will allow the appropriate strategy to be established for each patient to preserve their future fertility.
Before starting chemotherapy, possible preservation strategies and their expected success will be discussed with your oncologist. In the case of egg preservation, different types of ovarian stimulation schemes are used, similar to those used in In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) treatments, involving injectable medication for about a week. The puncture and aspiration of ovarian follicles are performed in an operating room under sedation in an outpatient procedure that allows the patient a quick recovery, so she can return to her normal life the day after.
The retrieved eggs are frozen using the vitrification technique to be used in the future when the patient has completed her oncological treatment and wishes to start trying to get pregnant. Once this happens, the eggs that were cryopreserved before oncological treatment can be thawed and fertilized in vitro (IVF), and the embryos transferred to the uterine cavity.
The success rate of this treatment depends on various factors, primarily the number of eggs that were cryopreserved and the patient’s age at the time of preservation.
What is it about?
Vitrification is a solidification process in which eggs and/or embryos are treated with cryoprotective substances and immersed in liquid nitrogen at a temperature of -196 ºC. It allows maintaining the quality and characteristics of the cryopreserved material for later use, thus offering a higher chance of success for patients. It is used in cases of fertility preservation and IVF/ICSI.
In what cases is it performed?
- Patients who undergo fertility preservation, vitrifying eggs for social reasons.
- Patients who undergo fertility preservation, vitrifying eggs for oncological reasons or because they will receive a treatment toxic to the ovaries.
- Patients who undergo IVF/ICSI or egg donation and produce more than one embryo, allowing for future transfers.
- Patients who undergo IVF/ICSI or egg donation and choose to delay the transfer by choice.
- Patients who undergo IVF/ICSI or egg donation and must defer the transfer due to endometrial or hormonal causes.
- Patients who choose to accumulate eggs before undergoing IVF/ICSI.
- Patients who decide to accumulate eggs or embryos for genetic testing (PGT)