Becoming parent after cancer

Becoming parent after cancer

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The birth of a child is a new beginning for both the infant and the parents. The ability to procreate after cancer is one of the concrete evidences that the disease has been defeated. It is important! Infertility can be one of the consequences of cancer or a side effect of treatments. This phenomenon can be observed in both men and women. Children can also be affected. Infertility can be temporary or permanent depending on the case.

Why does one become infertile after cancer?

If not treated in time, cancer can cause serious damages on the good functioning of the patient's reproductive system: testicles, ovary, uterus, etc. And this can lead to infertility. 

Surgery is widely practiced for the treatment of cancer. It prevents the disease from spreading into other parts of the body. The goal of this procedure is to remove the tumor from its preferred area. When performed close to the genitals, this operation is not without risk: it can affect certain organs that are essential for procreation and can even engender permanent sterility. 

In chemotherapy, specific drugs are used to stop the proliferation of cancerous cells. Most of the time, this fight does not spare healthy cells, including sperm and egg.  

Radiation therapy involves bombarding cancer cells with X-rays or protons. The goal is to annihilate them completely. As with surgery, this method can accidentally affect the organs that contribute in the human reproductive process and make the patient sterile. 

Hormone therapy aims at preventing the development of cancer cells by injecting specific hormones into the body. This practice can disrupt the patient's hormonal balance and lead to infertility. 

Immunotherapy gathers all the procedures that are used to immunize the patient from his cancer. The drugs or procedures used have not yet been proven and may have adverse effects on the patient. This may be temporary or permanent infertility, who knows! 

How to avoid sterility while treating cancer?

The first thing to do is to talk about it to your doctor. Before treatment begins, you should tell your oncologist your concerns and not hide anything about your case. You should ask him or her about possible complications that may result from the procedure and the precautions he or she will take to avoid or manage them after treatment. 

There are many ways to prevent infertility after cancer treatment. 

-For men, doctors can take sperm from the patient's body, keep them alive during treatment, and inject them back into the patient's body once the patient is cured. Sperm banking, sperm extraction and cryopreservation are the key words for this technique.

- As regards women, oncologists may use localized or generalized removal and removal of organs and cells. These are techniques of Medically Assisted Reproduction. The woman's eggs or ovary are removed from her body and kept alive by cryopreservation until recovery. Organ transplantation can also be performed on a patient who has lost one or more of her reproductive organs during cancer treatment. One example is a uterus transplant if a compatible donor is found. Recently, the removal and post-cancer reinjection of ovarian follicles has been proposed by researchers to preserve a woman's fertility after cancer treatment.

As you read this article, there are men and women who are struggling to find the most appropriate solution to avoid post-cancer infertility. Let’s be cured from cancer and put our trust on these modern day heroes.

Cancer all concerned!

(Photo by Dragos Gontariu on Unsplash)

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