For young women who’ve been hit with a cancer diagnosis, fertility preservation is a topic of much concern. There are multiple methods of preserving fertility, including freezing harvested eggs, moving the ovaries out of the line of radiation and suppressing gonadal function, but sometimes taking all the steps to preserving fertility is better than taking just one or two. Ovarian tissue preservation is a hot topic with strong debates for and against the procedure.
What is Entailed in Ovarian Tissue Preservation?
A sample of ovarian tissue is harvested from the female before she received any form of cancer treatment. The tissue sample is frozen using a controlled, slow process to preserve the health of the tissue before being stored in a liquid nitrogen environment. After treatment, the tissue is thawed and replaced.
Are There Risks to the Procedure?
There are risks to all procedures, but the major risk associated with ovarian tissue preservation is the reintroduction of cancer cells.
Does Ovarian Tissue Preservation Work?
There is no definitive or suggested percentage of efficacy when it comes to ovarian tissue preservation. There was a case study published in the Lancet in 2004, but the letter was retracted after authors admitted they could not guarantee the pregnancy after cancer treatment resulted from the preserved ovarian tissue. In this case the woman was later found to be producing progesterone after cancer treatment and before the tissue was replaced, which indicates fertility independent of the preserved tissue.
Women have options when it comes to protecting fertility from the harsh side effects and damage of cancer therapy. At the top of the list are options tried, trusted and proven to increase the likelihood of pregnancy. Procedures like ovarian tissue preservation are still in the testing stages without much clinical evidence to back up the procedure or risk of reintroducing cancer cells.