Due to advances in genetics and tracking familial risk for cancer, many young women know they are at increased risk for developing breast or ovarian cancer early in life. Fortunately, these women can now take a proactive approach to cancer screenings and their fertility.

So what are the fertility options who are at risk for receiving a cancer diagnosis before having children? Women who chose to undergo prophylactic oopherectomy and those diagnosed with cancer before completing their families have many of the same options.

 

Embryo banking

During this process, a woman’s ovaries are first stimulated to mature multiple eggs, which are then removed and fertilized through in vitro fertilization (IVF) with sperm to create embryos.  The embryos are then frozen for future use. The entire process can take up to one month. Watch an animation about embryo banking.

Egg banking

This is a new technology that is starting to show good results and, according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, is no longer considered experimental.  This process is exactly the same as described for embryo banking except that the eggs are NOT fertilized before freezing. This is a good option for single women who do not have a male partner and do not want to use donor sperm. The entire process can take up to one month. Read more information about egg banking.

Donor eggs, and embryos 

 Eggs, sperm, or embryos provided by a known or anonymous donor. Read more information about donation and donor eggs.

Surrogacy 

 Having another woman carry your child. More information about surrogacy is available here. Watch a cancer survivor discuss surrogacy.

Adoption

The Oncofertility Consortium® has compiled a list of adoption agencies that have stated an effort to work with at risk women and cancer survivors.

 

For more information and support, contact Bright Pink, the only national non-profit organization focusing on the prevention and early detection of breast and ovarian cancer in young women, while providing support for high-risk individuals. They provide support through their one-on-one mentoring program, PinkPal, experiential outreach groups, and they educate women through their Little Bright Book series. For more information on your reproductive options and local fertility preservation referrals, call the FERTLINE (866/708-3378) Fertility Navigators.