Imagine that you have just beaten cancer, and then you have to grow up, become an adult, and deal with the fact that you may be infertile. Sounds terrible right? Well that’s what several adults who have beaten cancer when they were younger are struggling with currently. Each year approximately 12,000 children and teens are diagnosed with cancer.
Why Is Infertility An Issue After Cancer?
Some treatments may affect how a girl’s ovaries and a boy’s testicles or testes evolve and work. The aftermath of the treatments could last a short while after the treatments or a lifetime after the treatments, which is the case for several now-adults. Infertility remains as one of the most common life-altering complications experienced by adults who were treated for cancer as children.
Some of the treatments that can affect infertility are as follows:
● Chemotherapy: Alkylating agents sometimes affect fertility more than the chemotherapy itself.
● Radiation Therapy: The risk is more dangerous when it is focused around the pelvis, abdomen, spine, or whole body.
● Surgery: Sometimes cancer is found to be affecting one of the child’s reproductive organs. In this case, the doctor may suggest removing a part or all of the reproductive organs. These types of surgeries affect infertility.
What Can You Do?
Talk It Out
Fertility can be a complex topic to discuss with a child or even teen. Either way children or teens who understand it should be involved in these types of conversations. The healthcare team can help you find age-appropriate ways to discuss fertility with your child. Generally kids and teens cannot give full legal consent until they are eighteen, however, a child that can understand, must generally agree. This is called assent.
Try to understand all the risks, and potential complications. Learn about the success and failure rates. Ask other questions. Allow your child to ask questions and respond if they can understand.
Is There Another Option?
Families have options as far as helping preserve children’s fertility. The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) recommends that parents and guardians discuss the risk of infertility and fertility preservation options with their child’s doctors. They should do this before cancer
treatment begins. Options are very limited for children diagnosed with cancer before they hit their teenage years. Also, the costs of these options can be very high.
Some fertility options are oocyte (unfertilised egg) freezing, ovarian tissue freezing followed by transplantation, sperm banking, or even testicular tissue freezing. In the end, these are all possible outcomes, and possible expenses on an already traumatic life-altering change.This is why certain organisations need your assistance and help, so that families have one less thing to worry about. For more information on these topics go to ASCO’s fertility preservation in patients with cancer.
Blanca Harris, enjoys spending time with her family, plants, animals. She has two dogs and a turtle whom she loves dearly. She spends most of her time reading and gardening. She also enjoys writing on her free time.