Cancer treatment limits the chances of many women becoming mothers. According to gynecologist Geraldo Caldeira, a doctor at the human reproduction service at Hospital e Maternidade Santa Joana (SP), treatments such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy compromise the quantity and quality of eggs.
It happened to a 29 year old woman who suffered from breast cancer, according case published in the scientific journal Annals of Oncology. Knowing the risk of infertility, the patient resorted to egg extraction to maintain the possibility of having children in the future before starting chemotherapy.
However, due to the urgency of the treatment, it was not possible to do ovarian stimulation, a common procedure before the removal, which helps to increase the quantity of eggs and which consists of about 10 days of taking medicines.
Without the technique and the common expectation of women who bet on the extraction, the egg stage was also not the most propitious, which meant that the medical team collected only the immature eggs, that is, they were not yet ready for fertilization. .
The patient had seven eggs extracted – according to Caldeira, a good amount for someone who did not undergo stimulation. “The ideal, to guarantee better chances of fertilization, would be 20 eggs,” he explains.
To leave the eggs at the ideal stage for fertilization, doctors used the maturation method in vitro. When they were ripe, they were frozen using a process called vitrification, which causes an egg or embryo to rapidly cool, which reduces the possibility of ice crystals forming and damaging the cell.
According to the case description, after five years of treatment, the woman became infertile and, as she wished to become pregnant, received medical advice to try a fertilization procedure in vitro with the eggs extracted years before.
Of the seven that were removed, ripened and frozen, five were successfully fertilized by scientists after being thawed.
According to the specialist at Hospital e Maternidade Santa Joana, the procedure, although not so common, is ideal for urgent cases. “The chance of success is related to the amount of eggs that the woman can extract. For cases of cancer treatment, the technique is highly recommended”, he points out.