Can fertility preservation interfere with successful cancer therapy or increase the risk of recurring cancer?

Research on whether taking fertility preservation steps can affect the success of cancer therapy or the risk of recurring cancer is limited. There's no evidence that current fertility preservation methods can directly compromise the success of cancer treatments. However, you could potentially compromise the success of your treatment if you delay surgery or chemotherapy to pursue fertility preservation.

While there appears to be no increased risk of cancer recurrence associated with most fertility preservation methods, further research is needed to determine whether ovarian stimulation can harm women who have hormone-sensitive tumors, as in some types of breast cancer.

Can cancer treatment or fertility preservation methods increase the risk of health problems in children conceived afterward?

As long as you don't expose your baby to cancer treatments in utero, cancer treatments don't appear to increase the risk of congenital disorders or other health problems for future children.

However, if you receive a cancer treatment that affects the functioning of your heart or lungs or if you receive radiation in your pelvic area, talk to a specialist before becoming pregnant to prepare for possible pregnancy complications.

What can parents do to preserve the fertility of a child who has cancer?

Taking steps to preserve the fertility of a child who has cancer can be difficult because he or she might not understand the consequences of impaired fertility. If your child has begun puberty, options might include oocyte or sperm cryopreservation. Your consent and your child's might be required. However, efforts to preserve the fertility of a child who hasn't begun puberty are considered experimental.

How do I determine the best fertility preservation option for me?

If you want to preserve your fertility before cancer treatment, talk to your doctor, oncologist or a reproductive specialist about your options. Your medical team will consider the type of cancer you have, your treatment plan and the amount of time you have before treatment begins to help determine the best approach for you.

The diagnosis of cancer and the treatment process can be overwhelming. However, if you're concerned about how cancer treatment might affect your fertility, you have options. Don't wait. Getting information about fertility preservation methods before you begin cancer treatment can help you make an informed choice.

Feb. 08, 2014 See more In-depth