« New Drug Attacks Fat, Helps Obese Monkeys Slim Down | Main | Conrad Murray Case Sends Signal to Docs About Pain Meds »

Fertility After Cancer Treatment Aim of New Free Program

Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Many woman who battle cancer, also face the loss of their fertility.

Age is a large factor in fertility in general, and how that fertility is affected by cancer treatment is no exception.  The types of drugs used to treat the cancer are also factors, but overall, the older the woman is, the less likely it is that her fertility will not return.

But what about younger women facing cancer treatment? According to Dr. Drew Tortoriello, medical director for the Sher Institutes for Reproductive Medicine, nearly 70,000 women under the age of 20 are diagnosed with cancer every year and Tortoriello hopes to offer them a chance to rescue their fertility.

Tortoriello estimates that nearly 50 percent of women lose their ability to have children a few months after chemotherapy and radiation.

For many women, the only possibility of holding on to their fertility lies in a cycle of harvesting their eggs, scheduled in between the cancer diagnosis and the on-set of chemo and radiation treatment.  And this safety net comes at a price.

“A cycle of IVF for the most part costs in the range of about $10,000 to $15,000. So it can be very cost prohibitive for people. Unfortunately, insurance is very, very hit or miss in terms of its coverage,” Tortoriello explains.

But Tortoriello and his colleagues at the Sher Institutes for Reproductive Medicine came up with a way to try to help. “Fertility Rescue is something that the physicians at the Sher Institute got together about maybe six months ago, and decided it was going to be our way of dealing with the infertility issue facing cancer patients…those who can never afford it, are actually going to be able to afford it because we are offering it essentially completely free.”

Vianney Ferdinand was the first patient to participate in the Fertility Rescue Program at the Sher Institutes for Reproductive Medicine.

After her bi-lateral mastectomy, but before beginning chemo and radiation, Ferdinand underwent a 10-day process to harvest her eggs and fertilize some of those eggs with her husband’s sperm.

Most oncologists recommend that women wait two to five years before trying to conceive, either naturally or otherwise. Ferdinand is aware that there are no guarantees with fertility, but she is optimistic and plans to add to her family in a few years.

Because this program is so new, Tortoriello does not have any statistics on the Fertility Rescue Program producing children to cancer survivors, but he remains confident that he will be helping many women in the months and years to come.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>

ABC News Radio