Breast cancer is a type of malignant tumor with a high incidence rate in our society. Typically, it presents as a lump or thickening in the breast tissue. Although there can be many reasons why a lump appears in the breast, it is always best to consult a specialist to rule out any diagnoses. Some of the warning signs that come along with this type of cancer are; change in the size or the shape of the breast, dimples, pitting, change in the appearance of the nipple and the areola (the pigmented area surrounding the nipple), and /or any abnormal secretion from the nipple.
Having a family history of breast cancer can increase the risk of developing this disease. However, not all women, or men, diagnosed with breast cancer have close family who is also affected.
Two factors that are a great help to control breast cancer are prevention and early detection. Nowadays, the majority of breast cancers can be treated with a procedure called a “lumpectomy” or partial mastectomy to remove the tumor from the breast, which is much less invasive than a total mastectomy. This is generally done in combination with radiotherapy to minimize the risk of the tumor returning.
Depending on the type of cancer, treatments such as surgery, radiotherapy or chemotherapy can all have irreversible effects on fertility, in both men and women. The good news is that thanks to reproductive medicine, women who have vitrified their eggs before their oncology treatment can look to become mothers in the future.
I WANT TO VITRIFY MY EGGS – WHAT IS THE PROCESS?
As some treatments such as chemotherapy, can irreversibly damage the ovaries, it is essential that patients with a diagnosis of breast cancer are well-informed and offered the chance to preserve their fertility. This allows them to “save” their eggs and then later use them in an assisted reproduction treatment to try for a baby.
The immediate solution for fertility preservation is the technique of egg vitrification, or in cases of male breast cancer freezing a sample of sperm.
The Ovoclinic medical team recommends using this technique after receiving the diagnosis and before treatment, as the quantity and quality of the eggs decline considerably after medication and therapeutic treatment.
The first step in the process is to visit one of our fertility clinics to get a personalized assessment and treatment plan. An AMH test (anti-Müllerian hormone) and a transvaginal ultrasound are some of the first studies, along with a complete work up. From these tests, we can measure ovarian reserve. The next step is controlled ovarian stimulation to develop multiple ovarian follicles. This will be closely monitored and when the eggs are ready we will arrange the egg retrieval, performed under sedation, to remove the mature eggs from the ovaries for their vitrification and preservation.
The vitrification procedure is carried out in our laboratories by a specialized cellular cryopreservation team. The eggs will be frozen in liquid nitrogen at -196°C, where they can be stored indefinitely without their quality being compromised.
GETTING PREGNANT WITH ASSISTED REPRODUCTION
When the woman decides it is time to start a family, she can do so thanks to her vitrified eggs and the technique of in vitro fertilization (IVF-ICSI), a technique we carry out in our laboratories with high success rates.
However, if the patient has not had the opportunity to vitrify her eggs before the cancer treatment, she can still try for pregnancy using IVF with egg donation or embryo adoption. Donor egg IVF treatments use eggs from a donor and sperm from the male partner, or if the woman decides to go it alone she can opt for the use of donor sperm. Alternatively, embryo adoption is a possibility, whereby embryo transfer is performed using embryos donated by patients who have already successfully become parents and wish to help other people build their families.
We are on your side! 🤍 We offer you a free initial consultation so you can get to know us and we can explain with care and understanding how we can help you to preserve your fertility.