Fertility preservation in children and adolescents with cancer
With excellent survival rates for individuals diagnosed with cancer during childhood or adolescence an awareness of quality of life, including fertility preservation is essential. Chemotherapeutic regimens that include alkylating agents and radiation treatments directed at the gonads or pituitary, including total body irradiation are particularly gonadotoxic. Assessment of potential for gonadotoxicity and appropriateness of fertility preservation techniques prior to the start of cancer directed therapies in every individual pediatric patient is crucial for limiting this late effect of therapy. Sperm banking for postpubertal males prior to the initiation of gonadotoxic therapy should be considered standard of care. Postpubertal females receiving highly gonadotoxic therapy that places them at risk of acute ovarian failure should consider embryo or oocyte cryopreservation prior to the initiation of therapy. Oocyte cryopreservation, as well as cryopreservation of gonadal tissue, whether ovarian or testicular, remain experimental and as such should be offered as part of a research protocol. Females who receive treatment that deplete their ovarian reserve should be evaluated for the development of premature menopause following their treatment. Embryo or oocyte cryopreservation post therapy may offer females at risk of premature menopause the opportunity to preserve their reproductive window. Further research clarifying gonadotoxicity of contemporary treatment regimens and improving interventions to preserve fertility are necessary to prevent infertility as a long term adverse effect of cancer treatment. The establishment of programs that streamline access to current fertility preservation techniques will assist in ensuring that all eligible patients can avail themselves of current options.