Scientific consensus to preserve fertility in young people with cancer

A group of scientists, led by Pedro N. Barri and Anna Veiga, have published an article in the journal 'Gynecological Endocrinology' defining the options and procedures to preserve fertility



New childhood and young-adult cancer diagnostic and treatment techniques have increased survival rates to roughly 75%, however in the long term these patients must face various side effects, including infertility. Fertility preservation (FP), mainly in females, has become a difficult issue mired in controversy. In the United States alone, between 12,000 and 15,000 cases of cancer are diagnosed each year in young people.

A group of specialists in oncology and reproductive medicine, led by Catalan doctors and scientists Pedro N. Barri and Anna Veiga of the Dexeus University Institute in Barcelona, have reached a consensus to define the options to try to preserve fertility in women with cancer: of the methods available after puberty, cryopreservation of ova is the preferred option, while cryopreservation of ovarian tissue is the only possibility for prepubescent girls. Experts also consider a combination of various strategies on an individual basis to improve success rates.

In any case, before intervening it is important to provide realistic information. Medical guidance must support patients and give them the best care in terms of their emotional needs and helping them face the situation they are experiencing. It is also recommended that patients be referred to a fertility specialist from the beginning as a key measure in promoting FP and improving quality of life. In a recent report, according to this group of specialists, 61% of women undergoing a treatment that could lead to infertility received guidance from a team of oncologists. Nevertheless, doctors complain that patients are not sufficiently aware of their reproductive options.

All of these conclusions have arisen from the scientific debate Fertility Preservation Update: Consensus Meeting, held by B·Debate —then under the name International Center for Scientific Debate— and the Dexeus Foundation in June 2011 in Barcelona, which brought together some fifty global experts. The article has been published in the journal Gynecological Endocrinology and is geared towards specialists involved in oncological treatment and reproductive medicine so that they will be aware of the procedures available to preserve fertility in young patients with cancer. 

Reference article: Cancer and fertility preservation: Barcelona consensus meeting. Francisca Martínez, Marta Devesa, Buenaventura Coroleu, Rosa Tur, Clara González, Montserrat Boada, Miquel Solé, Anna Veiga and Pedro N. Barri. Gynecological Endocrinology (2013) doi: 10.3109/09513590.2012.743019

Additional related contents (interviews, presentations, articles, etc.) from the scientific debates on fertility held in Barcelona are available on the B·Debate website.

Related news (6 June 2011)