Hyderabad, 30th September 2019: Divya (Name Changed) just like any other girl at the age of 28 had dreams of getting married and settle down with her family. Life was picture perfect until her first year of marriage where she was diagnosed with breast cancer, all hell broke loose for her, she was shattered on two counts, one the fear of fighting cancer and two, whether she will be able to bear a child in the state which she was in.
She realized soon that, life is not so unfair – when her oncologist specialist suggested her to meet Dr Durga G Rao – Medical Director and Co- Founder at Oasis Fertility. She was pleasantly surprised to know that, she was not alone in this kind of situation, there are hundreds of patients like her. She got a lot of Solace when she reached Oasis Fertility.
Fertility preservation is the process of saving or protecting eggs, sperm, or reproductive tissue so that a person can use them to have biological children in the future. It is the effort to help cancer patients retain their fertility, or ability to procreate.
How Does Cancer Therapy affect Fertility?
The effect of cancer therapy might be temporary or permanent and the degree of harm it does to your fertility depends on the type and stage of cancer treatment, age and various modes of treatment like:
Chemothery: It is known that there are certain drugs like alkylating agents or cisplatin which affects the fertility of the patients more so in older women.
Radiation: can be more damaging to fertility than chemotherapy, depending on the location and size of the radiation field and the dose given. For example, high doses of radiation can destroy some or all of the eggs in the ovaries.
Surgery: Fertility can be harmed by the surgical removal of the testicles, uterus or ovaries.
Talking to the media Dr Durga G Rao – Medical Director and Founder of Oasis Fertility stated that över a period of last few years we have seen a lot of patients secondary to cancer diagnosis being referred to us for fertility solutions, cancer and some autoimmune and idiopathic conditions are associated with a high risk of the male or female patient losing their fertility. We try and counsel them for fertility preservation and offer them solutions like embryo cryopreservation egg or oocyte cryopreservation or semen freezing, they can come back once they are fit both mentally and physically to start the journey of parenthood. She said, few years ago, over 10 lakh patients were diagnosed every year with cancer and by 2020 there could be around 17 to 18 lakh newly diagnosed cancer patients. Of these newly diagnosed patients at least 30 to 40% are in the reproductive age group. Unlike in the past because of advances in cancer care, these patients can survive and have a good quality of treatment post cancer care. But they are deprived of child bearing capacity due to damage to their fertility system from the cancer treatments of chemotherapy or radiation. Such patients if they are aware can preserve their sperms or embryo oocytes, prior to the cancer treatment and can become parents after they recover fully from cancer, using the preserved sperms or embryo oocytes. The current option for such parents is adoption but with this option they can have their own baby. If patients, oncologists and gynaecologists are aware this option, they can avail in case of a serious ailment. Off late more and more career oriented parents are preferring to postpone parenthood and such couples can preserve their sperms and embryo oocytes when they are young and become pregnant when they consider becoming parents, this is called Social Freezing. Employees of companies like Microsoft and Google have been availing Social Freezing option in the recent years.
Adding to this Dr Krishna Chaitanya – Scientific Head and Clinical Embryologist said – Oasis Fertility stated that “We are proud and glad to share that we have treated more than 100 such patients successfully and perhaps we are one of the only fertility care centres where we have been treating cancer patients and focusing on our cryo preservation technologies in highest numbers. We at Oasis have all the required competencies and dedicated teams like embryologist, reproductive technologists, psychologists, cryo preservation trained nurses and dietiatians who deal with the patient in a holistic manner.” Through Fertility preservation, the sperms and embryo oocytes can be preserved for as long as 20 to 25 years, there was case in London, where the pregnancy was taken up after 22 years, the baby born from this continues to be hail and healthy. Babies born from this are devoid of any deformity, the preservation is safe and the option is inexpensive.