Definition - What does Oncofertility mean?
Oncofertility is the field of medicine that works to expand the fertility potential of young people with cancer. The name of the field is based on an amalgamation of the two individual fields: oncology, the treatment of cancer, and fertility, the treatment of reproduction.
FertilitySmarts explains Oncofertility
Cancer treatments, including chemotherapy, surgery, radiation, and certain medications, can cause irreparable damage to the body’s reproductive organs and conception potential. These treatments can harm a woman’s eggs, cause ovarian failure, or stimulate early menopause. Similar damage can occur in men, including the harm of sperm production or the testosterone development.
As the rate of cancer survival increases, so do options for those undergoing treatments. Oncofertility was developed to provide young cancer patients with the option to take fertility preservation steps prior to and after cancer curing treatments have taken place. Preservation steps range in intensity, severity, and invasiveness based on the individual’s diagnosis and course of treatment. Example preservation tactics include:
- Shielding or removing reproductive organs from radiation pathway
- Cryopreservation of eggs or embryos
- In vitro maturation (IVM) of eggs
- Cryopreservation of sperm through sample retrieval or surgery retrieval
- Tissue banking
As of August, 2016, oncofertility is a rapidly advancing field. Additional preservation tactics are regularly tested in clinical trials and adopted into mainstream practice.