banner
Health Team

UNC program helps cancer patients preserve fertility options

Posted February 19, 2009
Updated March 9, 2009

Map Marker  Find News Near Me

UNC’s Fertility Preservation Program is helping more women diagnosed with cancer keep their fertility options open.

Nationally, only about 25 percent of oncologists address fertility issues with their patients before treatment begins.

Gina Wright, 39, of Knightdale, learned she had breast cancer 9 months ago. Her first oncologist never told her that the treatments might keep her and her husband, Brian, from having more children.

“We didn't know those questions to ask, because we were just thinking about cancer,” Wright said.

An ultrasound Program focuses on cancer patient fertility

When she sought a second opinion about surgery at UNC, though, Wright’s doctor asked about their family plans.

As more women of childbearing age get cancer and survive it, UNC OBGYN Jennifer Mersereau said, more patients are thinking about life after cancer.

“Fertility, either before or after the cancer treatment, has come up more and more as an issue,” Mersereau said.

UNC oncologists routinely offer cancer patients fertility counseling before surgery, chemotherapy and radiation treatments start.

“One of the things we did not want cancer to do was rob us of any of our potential opportunities,” Wright said.

The most common option is in vitro fertilization or IVF. Another option is egg freezing.

A more experimental option is ovarian tissue freezing. It can be offered now, but the technology is about 5 to 10 years away from producing babies.

Most health insurance policies don't cover fertility treatments for women about to undergo cancer treatments. Through a research study at UNC's Fertility Preservation Program, services are offered at a significant discount.

The Wrights chose IVF.

Gina Wright had a double mastectomy and just finished chemotherapy. She still faces breast reconstruction surgeries.

Though the couple isn’t thinking about having a baby now, they want others to know about the options available.

“We're very pleased that we had other options,” Brian Wright said. “I had no idea that we'd be able to store an embryo.”

Gina Wright had a double mastectomy and just finished chemotherapy. She still faces breast reconstruction surgeries.

Comments

This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all