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New ovarian stimulation technique offers more cancer patients the chance to preserve their fertility
Date:7/7/2008

Barcelona, Spain: Researchers have shown for the first time that it is possible to stimulate a woman's ovaries to produce eggs for collection during the final phase of the menstrual cycle. The finding offers the chance for more women who have been diagnosed with cancer to restore their fertility following chemotherapy or radiotherapy cancer treatments that can seriously damage the ovaries, often permanently. The findings were presented at the 24th annual meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology in Barcelona today (Monday).

At present, women who have been diagnosed with cancer may want to have some of their eggs collected and frozen in order to give them an opportunity of having children once their cancer treatment has finished. However, conventional protocols involve starting ovarian stimulation only at the beginning of a woman's menstrual cycle (the day that menstruation starts). Therefore, if the cancer diagnosis is made at any other time in the cycle, a woman could wait up to six weeks before it would be possible to collect eggs (or oocytes) after ovarian stimulation. For many women, six weeks is too long to wait before starting cancer treatment.

Dr Michael von Wolff, vice-director of the Department of Gynaecological Endocrinology and Reproduction Medicine at the University of Heidelberg, Germany, told a conference news briefing: "Depending on what phase of her menstrual cycle a woman is in when she receives a cancer diagnosis, it can take between two and six weeks to start ovarian stimulation and collect oocytes. Two weeks is an acceptable amount of time in many diseases to wait before starting a cancer treatment such as chemotherapy, but three to six weeks is far too long."

The researchers conducted a pilot study in 40 women in 2007 to see whether it would be possible to initiate ovarian stimulation during the luteal phase (the phase in the menstrual cycle from ovulation to the start of the next men
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Contact: Emma Mason
wordmason@mac.com
34-932-308-810
European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology
Source:Eurekalert

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