The MD Anderson Oncofertility Program provides comprehensive fertility services to reproductive age men and women whose fertility may be affected by cancer and its treatment.
Our approach covers four pillars:
- Comprehensive, patient-centered fertility counseling before and after cancer treatment
- Assessment of fertility status
- Discussion of options for parenthood after cancer
- Streamlined access to fertility preservation methods including egg and embryo freezing, sperm banking, and ovarian and testicular tissue freezing through our partnership with Baylor College of Medicine and the Texas Children’s Hospital Family Fertility Center
- Collaborative care with your oncologist
Pathways© Decision Aid Website
Pathways© is a fertility preservation patient decision aid website for women with cancer. It was created to address the informational and decision-support needs of women at risk for cancer-related infertility. Our research team partnered with cancer survivors and our stakeholder research partners to design, test and optimize the Pathways© patient decision aid to help women make decisions about fertility preservation that are in line with their personal goals and values.
We established a database to collect information about the fertility status of reproductive-aged individuals who have a history of cancer or are considered at high risk of developing cancer. The database includes data about their oncology history, reproductive history, and experiences with fertility preservation, if applicable. This data will help us learn more about the effects of different cancer treatments on fertility status and the reproductive outcomes of cancer survivors.
The MD Anderson Learning Center offers fertility preservation resources both in print and video.
Patient Education (documents)
The MD Anderson Oncofertility Program is also committed to training current and future clinicians by providing didactic sessions as well as educational opportunities through clinical shadowing experiences.
The Texas Cancer Registry indicates that 7,676 adolescent and young adult Texans between the ages of 15-39 are expected to be diagnosed with cancer in 2020.
The treatments that are required to treat cancer can directly or indirectly cause medically-induced (iatrogenic) infertility. Chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery can damage gametes (eggs and sperm), reproductive organs, and/or endocrine functioning; they may also impact the ability to carry a pregnancy. Because this damage is caused by treatments and not the disease, it can affect patients with many types of cancer.
This means that in the midst of dealing with a cancer diagnosis, patients who are about to begin life-saving, but potentially sterilizing, cancer treatments have to make urgent, difficult decisions about their reproductive capacity. Insurance coverage is an important part of ensuring that patients have the broadest set up of options as they consider their futures. According to the Alliance for Fertility Preservation, several states have enacted laws to provide insurance coverage for fertility preservation. MD Anderson serves as a resource for policy makers on this subject, working with stakeholders to help to educate on the benefits of robust coverage for cancer patients.
Learn more at the links below:
Professional Societies and Consortiums
Learn how cancer can impact fertility during and after treatment, and find questions men and women can ask their doctor about preserving fertility.
In 2016, my husband and I were trying to expand our family. A swollen lymph node almost derailed our plans entirely.
I’d felt the lump in my neck by chance one day, when I rubbed my hand along the underside of my jaw. I thought it was an abscess caused by a failed root canal.
It turned out to be advance stage high grade B cell lymphoma, a subtype of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Though grateful not to be pregnant at the time, I was still devastated by the thought of not being able to have more children. I knew certain cancer treatments could leave me infertile, and my husband and I had always planned to have three kids. We were hoping to give our two little boys a sister.
Fortunately, I went to MD Anderson for my non-Hodgkin lymphoma treatment. My doctors there not only gave us hope that we could still have more children — they also gave us options to maximize our chances.
Exploring fertility-preserving options before non-Hodgkin lymphoma treatment
I was already 35 at the time of my non-Hodgkin lymphoma diagnosis, so I wasn’t sure how much my age would affect my fertility. Cancer patients are usually advised to wait at least two years after completing chemotherapy before trying to conceive. That timeline would put me just shy of my 38th birthday.
I wasn’t interested in freezing my eggs, but wanted to explore my options. So my oncologist, Dr. Hun Ju Lee, referred me to reproductive endocrinologist Dr. Terri Woodard to discuss my fertility preservation options. Ultimately, my husband and I decided on one of the least-invasive: leuprolide injections. These are an experimental type of therapy designed to shut down the ovaries, theoretically making them less vulnerable to damage from chemotherapy drugs.
I received the first leuprolide injection in July 2016, a few weeks before starting my chemotherapy infusions. I got a second injection in October 2016.
We waited the full two years before trying for a baby again. Our daughter was conceived just two months later, in February 2019. She was born that November, perfectly healthy.
I knew I was in good hands
My husband and I were pretty surprised that I got pregnant so quickly. But once I did, I felt like this baby was meant to be.
I hadn’t even been sure of what I wanted anymore, family-wise, or what was possible after I finally achieved remission. And I struggled with fears of the physical toll another pregnancy might have on me, as well as any possible risks to the baby, due to my health history.
Still, I knew I was in good hands at MD Anderson. Its doctors have so much experience with cancer. They really have seen all types and kinds. And they also have tremendous research efforts going on, which are helping other cancer patients through clinical trials. I’d been living in Houston for 10 years by the time I was diagnosed with lymphoma, so it felt like I was supposed to be there.
After six cycles of chemotherapy and surgery to remove the affected lymph node, my cancer is still in remission. So, I know MD Anderson was the right choice for me. My family is complete now. And I feel great.
Request an appointment at MD Anderson online or by calling 1-877-632-6789.
Did You Know?
Adolescents and young adults (age 15-39) diagnosed with cancer each year in the U.S.
The age by which 1 out of 47 women will be diagnosed with some type of invasive cancer
Overall five-year survival rate after a cancer diagnosis