An Amazing New Story
Moaza Al Matrooshi just had a healthy baby boy, 15 years after undergoing treatment that made her infertile. How did she do it? When she was 9 years old, Moaza underwent a treatment that at that time was very rare- she had her ovary frozen before her cancer treatment.
Believe it or not, this can be done! The problem is that most children with cancer are never even spoken to about their potential fertility, or their fertility preservation options. This field of medicine is called Oncofertility. It is a field led by Dr. Teresa K. Woodruff at Northwestern University, teaching, leading, and encouraging doctors to not only have these conversations with patients, but make the medical advancements needed to be able to follow through.
Options for children with cancer:
So what are the options for someone who was in Moaza's position as a child? Well, it depends on several factors, like if she has started her period and is ovulating, and what her treatment is. For someone of Moaza's age, the only reliable treatment is usually ovarian tissue freezing, or cryopreservation.
For female patients, the following are considered as options:
- Egg banking (must be pubertal or post-pubertal)
- Ovarian tissue banking (can be prepubertal, but this is more experimental than oocyte (egg) freezing)
- Shielding from radiation with a lead apron
- Ovarian transposition (moving the ovaries out of the path of radiation)
- Gonadotropin agonist therapy- to decrease the amount of activity and theoretically decrease the harm to the ovaries. This is controversial.
- Embryo banking: for women who have a partner and want to freeze an embryo (egg plus sperm) instead of an egg alone.
What options are best for each patient is different. It depends on age, relationship, necessity of immediate treatment, what that treatment is, and religious, moral, and spiritual beliefs. It is not an easy decision for many, however, I do believe that in most cases, being given the option is important.
Dr. Jen Riegle is a Naturopathic Doctor (ND) who practices in Santa Rosa, CA. Dr. Jen specializes in women's health, infertility, and oncofertility. If you live in the Bay Area and would like to make an appointment, you may schedule on our website or by calling (707)-243-8998.