News You Can Use A monthly newsletter from the Cancer Learning Center March 2009 – Issue 44 Fertility and Cancer
For many people, becoming a parent is a major life goal. Cancer may threaten or delay that choice. The good news is that most cancer survivors can still choose parenthood after they complete treatment.
How can cancer affect fertility?
Fertility is the ability to produce children. Cancer and its treatment can cause infertility by interfering with necessary physical functions. Sometimes cancer treatment requires surgical removal of key reproductive system parts. Other cancer treatments such as radiation and some types of chemotherapies can cause infertility by killing sperm and egg cells. The cancer patient’s age, as well as the amount, duration, type, and location of cancer treatment, are all factors that can decrease fertility.
What options are available?
For many cancer survivors, natural reproduction is possible after treatment. If not, consider an assisted approach such as egg or sperm freezing. In these approaches, before you undergo cancer treatment, your own reproductive cells are saved for future use. You need to discuss this with your health care provider before your treatment begins.
Sperm or egg donation is an option for cancer survivors who cannot use their own cells. Surrogacy is also possible, but there are legal restrictions. Couples can also opt for adoption. Adoption agencies
Most cancer survivors can still choose parenthood after they complete treatment.
often collect medical history information, so it is important to use an agency with experience in handling adoptions for cancer survivors.
Is it safe to have a child after cancer?
Yes. Research shows that children of cancer survivors have the same rate of birth defects as in the general population. Unless the birth parent has a family history of cancer or an inherited higher cancer risk, cancer rates are also the same as in the general population. Talk with your health care provider about your family cancer history.
The Linda B. and Robert B. Wiggins Wellness Center offers a fertility and sexual health clinic. Please talk to your health care provider or call 801-587-4585 for more information.
The Cancer Learning Center (CLC) is a free resource library on the first floor of
Huntsman Cancer Institute
801-581-6365 • 1-888-424-2100 huntsmancancer.org/clc
NEW FROM THE CLC
Books Conceptions and Misconceptions by Arthur Wisot and David Meldrum
Fertility for Dummies by Jackie Meyers-Thompson
Fertility and Pregnancy After Breast Cancer by Kutluk Oktay and Debra Wood
Understanding Your Fertility, Pregnancy, and Parenting Options by Ann Partridge and Liz Ginsberg
Family Ties by Olufunmilayo Olapade and Shelly Cummings
Genetic Testing for Breast Cancer Risk
Heredity and Mutation: Origins of Change
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