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Don't just save her life, save her fertility
Date:9/6/2007

l work together on scientific, medical, psychological, legal and ethical issues surrounding the use of advanced reproductive technologies in cancer patients. Researchers will investigate how young women will be able to afford these new technologies. The consortium also will assess how extraordinary stress affects women's decisions and will develop new strategies to improve the quality of communications with newly diagnosed cancer patients.

The funding will support new research to preserve fertility for women and teenage girls. Eventually, it also will have a unique focus on young girls and even infants, the two populations for whom there currently are few options. As the survival rate for childhood cancer continues to improve, saving children's fertility is becoming an urgent mission.

Another component is a new position at the Feinberg School -- believed to be the first in the nation -- called a Fertility Preservation Patient Navigator. This patient navigator will help every newly diagnosed woman and teenage girl figure out the best options to preserve her reproductive health before starting cancer therapy and will coordinate that plan with the patient's doctors.

Because most cancer patients are not aware of fertility threats from their treatment or what can be done to help, a new website will be developed to educate patients and physicians with the most up-to-date information about fertility risks and treatment choices.

Northwestern's program is a template that will be adopted by other participating medical centers around the country.

The program is being funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Roadmap for Medical Research, an effort to integrate aspects of different disciplines to address health challenges that have been resistant to traditional research approaches. A central goal of Roadmap programs is to help transform the way research is conducted, said Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D., director of the NIH.

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Contact: Marla Paul
Marla-Paul@northwestern.edu
312-503-8928
Northwestern University
Source:Eurekalert

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