Dr. Ellen Greenblatt: Female Fertility Concerns for Survivors
It is crucial for childhood cancer patients to remember that life does go on after cancer. Understandably, fertility is an important aspect of that. Cancer treatments, however, can jeopardize reproductive health, most notably due to certain chemotherapy agents, particularly the class called alkylating agents that can kill off eggs in women and sperm in men. Radiation treatment to the pelvis can also affect ovarian function or the ability for the uterus to carry a pregnancy.
Despite such concerns, Dr. Greenblatt assures young survivors that there are many therapies that are less toxic and that pregnancy after cancer is not associated with a higher risk of abnormalities in children. She recommends visiting a reproductive endocrinologist and infertility centre if you have undergone treatment yourself. While such measures are recommended, Dr. Greenblatt provides a healthy reminder: all women, not only survivors, must think of family planning as planning their family rather than leaving it up to chance.
Ellen Greenblatt, MD, FRCSC is the Medical Director for the Centre for Fertility and Reproductive Health at the Mount Sinai Hospital and Associate Professor of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University of Toronto. She spoke at POGO’s 2013 Survivor Conference: Life after Childhood Cancer.
Straight Talk about Childhood Cancer is POGO’s new series of video shorts featuring the insights of experts whose leading-edge work impacts the care, treatment and quality of life of childhood cancer patients, survivors and their families.