Fertility Preservation in Cancer Patients
Being diagnosed with cancer is difficult enough, but imagine adding to this the worry that the treatment needed to save your life might also make you infertile. However, if cancer patients make informed decisions regarding their fertility between the time they are diagnosed and the onset of treatment, they will have greater control over their reproductive futures.
Specialists at the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Miami are now offering fertility counseling for male and female cancer patients. This counseling will help patients explore their options and make decisions regarding fertility preservation before they undergo treatments such as chemotherapy or radiation which can kill gametes.
“Recent research has found that most oncologists don’t advise their patients about the availability of fertility preservation options,” said Dr. George Attia, Director of the Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility Division in the Department of OB/GYN. “There is definitely a need and a role for fertility counseling.”
It is understandable that in the struggle to eradicate cancer, fertility is a lower priority and so oncologists may not discuss preservation options with patients prior to treatment. Dr. Attia’s goal is to partner with specialists at the University of Miami Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center in having cancer patients of reproductive age receive fertility counseling before they undergo treatment.
“Talking to patients about their options before treatment gives them hope and may result in a better quality of life after the cancer treatment is complete,” said Dr. Attia.
This interdisciplinary and holistic approach to care will be available to male and female patients. Some standard options available for these patients include freezing sperm for males, and for female patients, freezing eggs and embryos, and suppression of ovarian function (this is a medical treatment which suppresses ovulation and preserves ovarian reserve).
In the future, Dr. Attia also hopes to test some experimental treatments, such as freezing ovarian tissue and in vitro maturation of the egg.
To refer patients or to schedule an appointment for fertility counseling, please call 305-243-8642.
The University of Miami Infertility Center, a division of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, offers a variety of treatment options for infertility. In data published by the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology in 2007, approximately 61% of our patients under age 35 receiving treatment went on to give a live birth, while nationwide, the rate was 37%.
UM/Sylvester opened in 1992 to provide comprehensive cancer services and today serves as the hub for cancer-related research, diagnosis, and treatment at the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine. UM/Sylvester handles nearly 1,600 inpatient admissions annually, performs 2,600 surgical procedures, and treats 3,400 new cancer patients. All UM/Sylvester physicians are on the faculty of the Miller School of Medicine, South Florida’s only academic medical center. In addition, UM/Sylvester physicians and scientists are engaged in more than 250 clinical trials and receive more than $30 million annually in research grants. UM/Sylvester at Deerfield Beach opened in 2003 to better meet the needs of residents of Broward and Palm Beach counties. A major expansion is currently underway, which will double the size of this facility by adding diagnostic imaging services, additional chemotherapy chairs, and expanded exam rooms. Deerfield Beach offers appointments with physicians from 12 of UM/Sylvester’s 15 Site Disease Groups, complementary therapies from the Courtelis Center, and education and outreach events.