What is ovarian cortex cryopreservation?
Ovarian cortex cryopreservation involves freezing ovarian tissue before cancer treatment so women may be able to have children later. Fertility preservation is a common concern for young women diagnosed with cancer, particularly women diagnosed with cancer affecting their reproductive system. In some cases, surgery to remove the cancer may require removal of the ovaries, cervix or uterus. Even without surgery, treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy may damage the ovaries.
Ovarian cortex cryopreservation may offer women the chance to have children after treatment if other assisted reproductive technologies (ART) are not ideal for their situation. Women choosing this procedure first will undergo minimally invasive laparoscopy to remove an ovary. The ovary also can be removed during any abdominal surgery a woman may need. Then, the ovary is taken to a lab, cut into thin sections and frozen.
After treatment, the frozen tissue may be thawed and implanted into the woman for natural conception. The transfer of tissue back into the body is called ovarian tissue transplant. Alternately, the frozen tissue may be stored for future use. It would then be taken to a lab to grow the immature follicles. This process is known as in vitro follicle maturation. The egg then would be taken from the fully grown follicle and joined with sperm.
Both these procedures are relatively new and should be considered carefully with your oncologist and an infertility specialist. Women have had successful pregnancies and deliveries after ovarian tissue transplant, but it may not be appropriate for women with leukemia, lymphoma and ovarian cancer. In vitro follicle maturation has not resulted in a successful pregnancy to date and is still considered an experimental procedure.
Ovarian cortex cryopreservation for cervical cancer
Treatment for cervical therapy may affect a women’s ability to conceive. The cervix, the lower part of the uterus, is part of a women’s reproductive system. Sometimes the ovaries are removed as part of uterine cancer treatment. Ovarian cortex cryopreservation may be an option for women of childbearing age who want to get pregnant after treatment.
Freezing ovarian tissue for later use may allow women with cervical cancer to conceive after cancer treatment. Women of reproductive age should discuss options with their oncologist and an infertility specialist. Dr. Giuseppe Del Priore, National Director of Gynecologic Oncology at CTCA, has published groundbreaking work in this area and has extensive experience treating women who want to have children after a gynecologic cancer.1, 2 CTCA works with a network of fertility centers that have experience with cancer patients.
1 Del Priore G, Smith JR, Boyle DC, Corless DJ, Zacharia FB, Noakes DA, Diflo T, Grifo JA, Zhang JJ. Uterine transplantation, abdominal trachelectomy, and other reproductive options for cancer patients. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 943:287-95, 2001.
2 Smith JR, Boyle DC, Corless DJ, Ungar L, Lawson AD, Del Priore G, McCall JM, Lindsay I, Bridges JE. Abdominal radical trachelectomy: A new surgical technique for the conservative management of cervical carcinoma. British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology 104(10): 1196-200, 1997.