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Fertility Preservation Program in Pittsburgh Offers New Options to Even the Youngest Cancer Patients

One of the nation’s first comprehensive programs to help preserve or restore fertility after cancer treatment for not only adults, but also preadolescent girls and boys, has been established by a network of experts in reproductive medicine and cancer at Magee-Womens Research Institute (MWRI), Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC and the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.
The Fertility Preservation Program in Pittsburgh aims to educate patients and their physicians about the long-term reproductive impact of cancer therapies and the options for preserving fertility – some investigative – that are available to them, explained Kyle Orwig, Ph.D., associate professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at the School of Medicine, an MWRI researcher and one of the program leaders.
Studies show that up to 90 percent of cancer patients are not informed about the risks cancer treatment can pose to fertility, a statistic that physicians and researchers in Pittsburgh hope to change by offering counseling and services seamlessly coordinated with patient care.
While adult men and women can freeze eggs, sperm or embryos prior to treatment, there currently are no options to preserve the fertility of boys and girls who are not yet producing mature eggs or sperm. “For these young patients, we will freeze testicular or ovarian tissue that might be used in the future to restore fertility when experimental techniques emerge from the research pipeline,” said Dr. Orwig. “In conjunction with pediatric oncologists at Children’s Hospital and the Center for Fertility and Reproductive Endocrinology at Magee, we are poised to provide standard as well as experimental options for preserving fertility.”

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