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Ovarian Tissue Transplants Give Cancer Survivors Chance To Become Pregnant

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Female cancer patients who had their ovarian tissues removed and frozen now have the option to regain their fertility through an ovarian tissue transplant. The process was once an experimental technique. A new study proved that the technique can help female cancer survivors bear children.

Cancer treatments in women affect the ovaries. For female patients who wish to save and regain their fertility, one of the ovaries is removed and cut into stripes to preserve them. Frozen ovarian tissue can later be transplanted into the other ovary.

A study conducted in Denmark studied 41 female cancer survivors whose ovarian tissues were removed between 2003 and 2014. They all underwent an ovarian tissue transplant after recovering from cancer. Out of the 32 women who wanted to bear children, 10 women successfully became pregnant and gave birth. Around the world, there are over 36 babies born out of ovarian transplant mothers. Fourteen of these babies were born in Denmark.

"Once we transplant the ovarian tissue, it takes about four to five months for the ovary to get restarted," said study's lead author Dr. Claus Yding Andersen.

The scientists also found that transplanted ovarian tissues can last up to 10 years. Mark Fenwick from the University of Sheffield in South Yorkshire, England is a speaker in reproductive and developmental medicine. He explained the transplanted ovarian tissues that lasted so long might have more eggs than others. He also advised that both mothers and babies involved in the procedure need to be monitored closely in case any peculiarity arises. To date, there is no documented problem or symptom involved in the procedure. Three women in the study experienced a cancer relapse, however, Andersen expressed that it has no link to the ovarian tissue transplant.

Working to improve the process is Dr. Yacoub Khalaf from the Guy's Hospital in London. He is the director of the hospital's Assisted Conception Unit. He expressed that the technique requires further validation; however, the results are very encouraging for ovarian cancer survivors who wish to have children.

British Fertility Society's Dr. Jane Stewart warned that the procedure may not be suitable for all applicants. She advised doctors to be vigilant in choosing the right candidate. For now, female cancer patients can have the option of freezing their eggs or embryos for a potential transplant later.

The researches published their study in the Human Reproduction journal on Oct. 6, 2015.

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