Intended for healthcare professionals


Preserving fertility in girls and young women with cancer

BMJ 2016; 355 doi: (Published 30 November 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;355:i6145
  1. Richard A Anderson, professor of clinical reproductive science1,
  2. Melanie C Davies, consultant gynaecologist2
  1. 1MRC Centre for Reproductive Health, Queens Medical Research Institute, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
  2. 2Reproductive Medicine Unit, Department of Women’s Health, University College London Hospitals, London NW1 2PG, UK
  1. Correspondence to: M C Davies Melanie.Davies{at}

Awareness of and access to services remains poor in the UK

Advances in the treatment of cancer in children and young adults have meant that more survivors are living with the long term consequences of treatment.1 Loss of fertility is a big concern,2 and infertility is common after high dose chemotherapy and pelvic irradiation.3 Fertility preservation has been available to men for many years; semen cryostorage before treatment yields viable sperm for later in vitro fertilisation (IVF). Women, however, require more complex and invasive procedures.4 This aspect of the holistic care of young people with cancer has been highlighted by the recent announcement of the first baby born in the UK to a woman who had regrafting of ovarian tissue that was cryopreserved 10 years earlier.5

The options for women facing loss of fertility from treatment for cancer or other therapies include cryopreservation of oocytes, embryos, or, more experimentally, ovarian tissue. Embryo freezing has been used successfully for three decades. Oocyte freezing is technically more …

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