Fertility preservation in female cancer patients: an emerging challenge for physicians
AbstractFertility preservation has become an issue of great importance in female cancer patients due to increasing survival rates and delayed childbearing. It is an emerging challenge for physicians, cause of several related issues (multidisciplinary approach, doctor-patient communication, ethical, religious and legal problems) and many unresolved questions. This review aims to update the latest literature data, summarizing the effects of cancer treatments on female fertility and the various options currently available to offer cancer patients the opportunity of future pregnancies. Many strategies exist for fertility preservation in young women and they should be assessed according to the patient’s age, type of cancer, partner status and time available. Some techniques are well established, others are still experimental. The established methods include embryo cryopreservation, transposition of ovaries prior to radiation therapy, radiation shielding of gonads and conservative surgical approaches. The experimental methods include oocyte cryopreservation, in vitro maturation of oocytes, ovarian tissue cryopreservation and transplantation, and ovarian suppression. Improvement of these techniques as well as better characterization of their success rates and risks, await further investigation. Oocytes donation and gestational surrogacy represent the last options. Thus, the care of these patients is challenging, complex and requires a multidisciplinary approach. A close collaboration between Oncologists, Specialists in Reproductive Medicine, Gynecologic Oncologists and Endocrinologists is crucial for always offering the best possible option.