Purpose of review
The overall survival and cure rates of patients with childhood and adult malignancies have improved dramatically, but cancer treatment can be associated with diminished reproductive potential. However, research on the preservation of fertility in these patients has given patients new options. This article discusses the mechanisms of reproductive failure after cancer therapy and the currently available fertility preservation strategies.
Ovarian transposition is still a viable option if radiotherapy is to be used alone. Modifications in assisted reproductive technology that decrease peak estradiol levels are ideal for breast cancer survivors. Embryo freezing technology offers excellent pregnancy rates. Oocyte freezing is available for women without a partner, but there is more limited experience with this technique. Understanding the concepts of graft function after the autotransplantation of frozen–thawed ovarian tissue has resulted in great strides in the technical requirements for success.
Gonadotropin-releasing hormone analogues are the only available medical protection means for gonadotoxic chemotherapy. Assisted reproductive technology offers excellent results, but the protocols require a delay in implementing chemotherapy. Despite recent reports of embryo development after the transplantation of cryopreserved–thawed ovarian tissue, clinical experience is limited and the technique remains experimental.
Abbreviations ART: assisted reproductive technology; FSH: follicle-stimulating hormone; GnRH: gonadotropin-releasing hormone; IVF: in-vitro fertilization; POF: premature ovarian failure.