Saving Fertility After Cancer


ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Over 22 thousand women in the United States will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer and nearly two-thirds of those women will die from it. Those who survive face fertility issues. But there are some things women can do to save their fertility.

The organs that are most important for a healthy pregnancy are the ones that ovarian cancer attacks. So what can a woman do?

Iris Romero, MD, OB/GYN, University of Chicago says, “There’s actually a lot of more options available for women now than there was in the past.”

Women can not only have their eggs frozen, but also ovarian tissue. Surgeons can transplant the tissue after cancer treatment. Other things women can do include targeted therapy that protects the ovaries, medication that suppresses ovarian function during treatment and fertility-preserving surgery. Another thing …

“I think the most critical step a woman can take is to have a long standing and trusting relationship with her gynecologist,” continued Dr. Romero.

This vital relationship comes in handy when a woman is preparing to have kids and critical when she is diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Chemo, not kids, is on the mind of oncologists. So look for an advanced care center where there’s a team of cancer doctors and fertility specialists. These specialists are charged …

“With thinking about this person’s family options when they survive this cancer ten, fifteen years down the road,” Dr. Romero added.

For a woman to become pregnant without reproductive help, she will need only one healthy ovary with enough eggs, one healthy fallopian tube, a healthy uterus and a good level of specific hormones.

Contributors to this news report include: Milvionne Chery, Producer; Jamie Koczan, Editor.

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REPORT #2532

 BACKGROUND: The ovaries are made up of 3 main kinds of cells. Each type of cell can develop into a different type of tumor. Epithelial tumors start from the cells that cover the outer surface of the ovary. Most ovarian tumors are epithelial cell tumors. Germ cell tumors start from the cells that produce the eggs. And, stromal tumors start from structural tissue cells that hold the ovary together and produce the female hormones estrogen and progesterone. Most of these tumors are benign and never spread beyond the ovaries. About 22,240 women in the United States will receive a new diagnosis of ovarian cancer this year, and about 14,070 women will die from the disease. Ovarian cancer ranks fifth in cancer deaths among women, accounting for more deaths than any other cancer of the female reproductive system. A woman’s risk of getting ovarian cancer during her lifetime is about 1 in 78. About half of the women who are diagnosed with ovarian cancer are 63 years or older. It is more common in white women than African-American women. The rate at which women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer has been slowly falling over the past 20 years.

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REDUCING RISK OF OVARIAN CANCER: There is no way to truly prevent ovarian cancer. One would think that removal of the fallopian tubes and ovaries would prevent the disease, but this is not always the case. However, there are ways to significantly reduce your risk. If a woman takes birth control pills for more than 10 years, then her risk of ovarian cancer drops significantly. Tubal ligation has long been known to decrease the risk of ovarian cancer. Recently, removal of the entire tube has been shown to further decrease the risk. This procedure, called a salpingectomy, can be considered by any woman considering a tubal ligation. Removal of the ovaries does decrease the risk of cancer, but at the cost of increasing death due to heart disease and other causes. Recent studies indicate that many of these cancers actually come from the fallopian tube and that removal of even postmenopausal ovaries causes other problems. The tubes should be removed at the time of hysterectomy for any woman. The need for removal of the ovaries is much more uncertain.


EARLIER DETECTION IS POSSIBLE: Scientists might have been looking for ovarian cancer in the wrong place, according to a breakthrough new study. Researchers have long suspected that ovarian cancer originates in the fallopian tubes, which run between the ovaries and the uterus. And, the new study suggests that is correct, offering new ways of spotting and dealing with the disease. Scientists now say that those problems might have arisen because researchers were looking in the wrong place, at the wrong tissue. “Ovarian cancer treatments have not changed much in many decades, and this may be, in part, because we have been studying the wrong tissue of origin for these cancers,” said Victor Velculescu, a professor of oncology at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center who led the study. “If studies in larger groups of women confirm our finding that the fallopian tubes are the site of origin of most ovarian cancer, then this could result in a major change in the way we manage this disease for patients at risk.”


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