Last year, when training with Team in Training, I heard more than a few stories about the fertility worries of leukemia and lymphoma patients. These blood cancers tend to strike at a younger age than many other cancers, making fertility more of an issue, and one that I admit that I’d never really thought about before.
So it was good news when I saw this news release from the Mayo Clinic indicating that the recent and rapid advances in reproductive technologies have opened the doors to new options for cancer patients.
For years, freezing sperm has been the method of choice for men, but in recent years there has been increasing success with freezing eggs as well.
“Cryopreservation of eggs used to be considered the Holy Grail of therapy, not just for cancer patients, but for any woman who wanted to halt the biological clock,” says Dr. Jani Jensen, the lead author of the paper. “In the last five years, there have been considerable improvements in freezing technology. Since 2004, there have been thousands of babies born worldwide from frozen eggs.”
Additional techniques are now being tested with tissue from prepubescent cancer patients, enabling their tissue to mature in the lab and ultimately be used to deliver healthy babies.