Optimizing Fertility Preservation for Girls with Childhood Cancer

A health care provider smiles at a young patient while holding her hands. The girl is wearing a headscarf.

Treatments for childhood cancer often involve chemotherapy and radiation therapy, which can damage reproductive tissues. In girls, these treatments cause a condition called primary ovarian insufficiency (POI), which leads to infertility. However, a procedure called ovarian tissue cryopreservation can help preserve future fertility and is often offered at pediatric hospitals in the United States. Before cancer treatment begins, an ovary is removed, frozen, and stored, and the tissue is grafted back when the patient is older and cancer-free.

Researchers from Gomez-Lobo Lab led the first study to evaluate clinical outcomes after cancer treatment and fertility-preservation procedures. (The study included data from the three largest pediatric ovarian tissue cryopreservation programs in the United States, but it was not powered enough to detect statistical differences.) The study team checked rates of POI between girls who opted for ovarian tissue cryopreservation and those who had not before undergoing bone marrow transplants. The study team found similar rates of POI between both groups and that rates of POI were generally lower than expected. The results provide reassurance that ovarian tissue cryopreservation is a safe option with low surgical complication rates.

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