NCCN Guidelines for Patients® | Caring for Adolescents and Young Adults - page 32

NCCN Guidelines for Patients
: Caring for Adolescents and Young Adults
Version 2013
Part 3: Preparing for the future
Before treatment
Fertility preservation methods that can be done before
treatment fall into two basic groups: techniques that
prevent damage from happening in the first place, and
techniques that remove healthy cells (sperm, eggs, or
embryos) and store them for later use.
Damage prevention
It’s sometimes possible to protect reproductive organs
through fertility-sparing surgery, in which the surgeon
removes only the cancerous tissue and leaves as much
healthy tissue in place as possible (for example, leaving
the healthy ovary in place if you have early-stage
ovarian cancer).
If you’ll be receiving radiation therapy, radiation shielding
(using special lead shields to prevent radiation from
reaching the ovaries or testicles) can sometimes prevent
fertility damage. If you’re a woman, it may also be
possible to surgically move the healthy ovary (or ovaries)
out of the radiation field, a process called ovarian
There is also an experimental technique called ovarian
suppression that uses a hormone-blocking drug to stop
the ovaries from producing eggs. (Think of it as putting
the ovaries to sleep until treatment is over.) Although
ovarian suppression is sometimes used in the treatment
of breast cancer, no scientific studies have been
published on how well it works for protecting fertility.
Foundation’s Fertile Hope
program offers calculators (
tool-bar/options-calculator.cfm) that can identify
fertility preservation techniques that might work
for you based on your gender, age, treatment stage,
and the type of treatment you’re receiving.
Exploring your choices
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