USC Fertility

Embryo Banking for Cancer Patients

Embryo banking for cancer patients offers hope

If you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, you may be worried about how the disease and its treatment will affect your fertility. Women are typically advised to prevent pregnancy while receiving chemotherapy or radiation, and for at least six months afterward. But in the short period of time before you begin treatment, embryo banking for cancer patients may give you another option to preserve your fertility.

At our oncofertility center in Los Angeles, we understand that women facing cancer must act quickly if they wish to preserve their fertility. If you are a candidate for embryo freezing, we will do everything possible to ensure that your fertility treatment is both rapid and that any effect on your overall wellness is minimized.

Understanding embryo banking for cancer patients

For both men and women, chemotherapy drugs and radiation may cause genetic changes in sperm or eggs, which can lead to failure to conceive or miscarriage. Surgeries to the reproductive organs to remove cancer may also make it difficult or impossible to conceive naturally in the future. But embryo banking for cancer patients makes it possible for more women to have a child after beating cancer.

Unfortunately, the effects of many cancer treatments can be difficult to predict, as they may cause either permanent or temporary damage to a woman’s fertility. Treatments include, but are not limited to:

  • Hysterectomy
  • Full body irradiation
  • High-dose chemotherapy
  • Highly toxic chemotherapy with alkylating agents
  • Radiation to the pelvis (affecting ovaries and uterus)
  • Hormonal cancer therapy

Cancer treatment in men, including chemotherapy with alkylating agents, radiation or surgery to the testicles, can have similar effects on male fertility, prompting many men to freeze their sperm before treatment. For women, preserving fertility prior to cancer treatment is a more complex process.

Some women facing cancer – especially women who do not yet have a partner – choose egg freezing to preserve their fertility. For women who hope to have a child with their current partner or with donor sperm, embryo freezing is a different fertility preservation process that has a long track record of success.

The process of embryo banking for cancer patients is the same as the process for IVF, in which you take medications that stimulate your ovaries to produce multiple eggs at once. Then, your eggs are retrieved in an outpatient surgical procedure and fertilized in a laboratory using your partner’s sperm or donor sperm. All resulting embryos grow in the embryology laboratory for a few days, and then are frozen until the time that you need them to start or add to your family.

Find out if embryo freezing is right for you

If you’re interested in embryo banking for cancer patients, it’s important to consider that the process can take several weeks, and that your egg retrieval must take place before your cancer treatment can begin.

For some women with fast-growing cancers, delaying treatment may not be a safe choice. Your fertility specialist and oncologist will base their recommendation on several factors, including your age, the type of cancer you have and your treatment plan. If you’re diagnosed with cancer and want to have a baby in the future, be sure to contact us quickly so that we can determine if embryo banking is right for you.

To learn more about embryo banking for cancer patients, contact us to schedule a consultation at our oncofertility center in Los Angeles.