Is IVF Treatment Possible After Cancer?

Many types of cancer affect the reproductive system deeply and can cause early menopause in women. Since treatments such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy applied to cancer patients are effective in the reproductive cells of women, many young cancer patients also face reproductive problems. Chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments, which prolong the life of cancer patients, cause toxic effects on reproductive cells. These treatments cause a decrease in egg quality and number in women, and decrease in sperm motility and number in men. However, tissue storage and IVF treatments enable women who have overcome cancer to have children.

Treatment Process

In female patients, there is a period of approximately six weeks before chemotherapy or radiotherapy treatments are started. Meanwhile, the reproductive potential of cancer patients can be preserved with three different methods. In married couples, the eggs of the patients are fertilized by in vitro fertilization method and embryos are formed and these embryos are stored by freezing. Egg cells of unmarried patients are directly frozen and stored. The last method is the surgical removal of the ovarian tissue containing the patient’s primordial follicles and freezing it. In male patients, there are three different methods such as sperm freezing, testicular tissue freezing and testicular preservation. People who have survived cancer have the chance to have a baby by revitalizing frozen tissues. The most commonly used method today is embryo freezing. Preservation of ovarian tissue is still in the experimental stage and is considered a promising method, which is not easy to do everywhere.

Menstruation During the Treatment Process

In some cases, female patients may return to normal in their menstrual cycle during chemotherapy or radiotherapy treatment. However, the return of the menstrual cycle to normal does not mean that the reproductive systems are working in a healthy way. Even if patients have regular menstrual cycles after successful treatment, early menopause may occur. Another major effect of cancer treatment on eggs is chromosomal disorders. For this reason, people who have been treated for cancer should wait at least six months before starting IVF treatment.

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