Fertility and Cancer Treatment
- Lauren Young, 33, was diagnosed with cervical cancer after doctors initially missed it in her screening test.
- Thanks to money she won in a settlement, she is trying to have a baby via in vitro fertilization (IVF) after a fertility-sparing treatment for her cervical cancer.
- One of our experts says the sooner the better when it comes to fertility preservation techniques. So, it’s important for cancer warriors to feel confident talking to their doctor about how their treatment may affect fertility early on.
- Cervical cancer warriors, in particular, will not be able to become pregnant if treatment requires the removal of their uterus or ovaries. But there are some fertility-sparing treatment options available to certain patients. Ask your doctors about what treatment path is best for you.
Young, who has now been cancer-free for four years, has reportedly been awarded more than $80,000 in damages after her cervical cancer was missed by a screening. The women’s news site Tyla alleges Young was told she after had “no abnormal cells” to worry about after a colposcopy in 2015. But a screening three years later where Young reported having spotting led to an MRI and biopsies that revealed cervical cancer.Read More
For treatment, she underwent a radical trachelectomy – a surgery where doctors remove the cervix and some surrounding tissue, a small portion of the upper vagina and nearby lymph nodes.
“I’m so grateful to still be alive, but there is now a worry that I may never become a mum, which really frightens me,” she explained. “All my sisters have children, and I’ve wanted to be a mum ever since I can remember.”
Expert Cervical Cancer Information
- New Cervical Cancer Test Detects Disease Significantly Better Than HPV Test and Pap Smear
- HPV Vaccination Dramatically Reduces Cervical Cancer Rates; Everything You Should Know About The Vaccine
- New Hope for Patients With Cervical Cancer: Adding Immunotherapy Drug to Standard Chemo Treatment Could Improve Survival Time
The professional photographer is now using her settlement money to fund in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments to try and conceive a child. IVF is a kind of fertility treatment where eggs are combined with sperm outside of your body in a lab via a series of complex steps.
Young has a long road ahead of her regarding her fertility journey, but SurvivorNet is wishing her all the best. And we highly support her message to young women about advocating for their health.
Be Pushy, Be Your Own Advocate… Don’t Settle
“My advice to other women is if you feel something isn’t right, get it checked. Listen to your body and don’t put it off,” she said. “People need to trust their instincts and not be afraid to speak up if they have concerns. Early detection can save lives, and I hope my story will encourage other women to be more vigilant about their health.”
Fertility and Cervical Cancer Treatment
Generally speaking, fertility issues can result from some cancer treatments. Thankfully, there are fertility preservation options for some women of childbearing age to consider such as:
- Egg and embryo freezing (the most common practice)
- Ovarian tissue freezing
- Ovarian suppression to prevent the eggs from maturing so that they cannot be damaged during treatment.
- Ovarian transposition, for women getting radiation to the pelvis, to move the ovaries out of the line of treatment.
Preserving Fertility During Cancer Treatment: What Are the Options?
Women faced with any type of cancer should feel confident they know their options. And reproductive endocrinologist Dr. Jaime Knopman says being comfortable discussing them early on is of the utmost importance.
“The sooner we start, the sooner that patient can then go on and do their treatment,” Dr. Knopman said. “A lot of the success comes down to how old you are at the time you froze and the quality of the lab in which your eggs or embryos are frozen in.”
Fertility conversations will vary from case to case. People with cervical cancer, in particular, might not be able to consider all of the above fertility preservation options. And they won’t be able to get pregnant if their uterus or ovaries are removed for treatment – though egg and embryo freezing might still be available for these patients so they can have a biological child through the use of a surrogate (another woman who carries the baby until birth).
That being said, there are fertility-sparing treatment options available to some cervical cancer warriors. According to NYU Langone Health, two options include:
- Conization: A procedure available for some women with small cancerous growths confined to the cervix where a doctor removes a cone-shaped piece of tissue from the cervix.
- Radical trachelectomy: A procedure available for some women with small tumors and early cervical cancer where doctors remove the cervix and some surrounding tissue, a small portion of the upper vagina and nearby lymph nodes but leave the uterus, ovaries and fallopian tubes in place. Women who become pregnant after a radical trachelectomy must undergo a cesarean delivery where an incision is made in the abdomen in order to deliver the baby.
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