Is pregnancy safe after chemotherapy?
You can also read the transcript of the video below.
Teresa K. Woodruff, Ph.D.
The Watkins Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology
Director, The Oncofertility Consortium
Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University
One of the questions cancer patients have is, “Can I get pregnant after I survive the cancer?” Let’s say I have preserved my fertility through either an embryo, an egg, or ovarian tissue cryopreservation. So for some young women with cancer, their uterus will actually be impacted directly by the treatment as well and so they will not be able to carry a pregnancy themselves, in which case they would need a surrogate that would carry that pregnancy to term.
So in the United States, surrogacy is a real possibility—either a familial surrogate, a sister, or a surrogate that can be identified nationally. That is for one group of women who might have pelvic radiation, for example. Other women are going to be able to have their uterus fully functional, and can have embryos transferred to the uterus—it will implant—and then they can go through a full pregnancy. And there are a large number of women nationally who have had pregnancies after cancer and have delivered live, healthy births. These are pregnancies that should be managed by their physician, but it is absolutely a possibility that young women can have and deliver live, healthy children.
A great example of this is Lindsay Norbeck, who is the founder of the group Fertile Hope, who has now had two children after surviving her cancer treatment. These are really the success stories—that if you preserve your fertility before the cancer treatment, you have several options for delivering children down the line.