Ovarian tissue transplants give hope to women with cancer who want a baby

An experimental technique to transplant ovarian tissue has been proven to help women with cancer have babies. The biggest ever study of women who had ovarian tissue removed, frozen and transplanted suggests the procedure is safe and can help about one third of them “who have no other alternative.”

The procedure is intended for women with cancer who wish to preserve their fertility, since cancer treatments can harm the ovaries. Scientists typically remove an ovary and cut it into strips before freezing it. Years later, after the woman has recovered, doctors can graft some of the tissue onto the remaining ovary.

Researchers followed 41 women in Denmark who had the procedure between 2003 and 2014. Of the 32 women in the study who wanted children, 10 later got pregnant and gave birth, Associated Press reports.

Denmark offers the treatment free to all women who qualify and in some cases, the transplanted tissue lasted up to 10 years, much longer than scientists predicted.

“Once we transplant the ovarian tissue, it takes about four to five months for the ovary to get restarted,” says Dr Claus Yding Andersen, the study’s senior author. The paper was published online in the medical journal, Human Reproduction.

The results from the technique are reassuring, says Dr Yacob Khalaf, director of the Assisted Conception Unit at Guy’s Hospital in London. “It offers hope to people who have no other alternative,” he says.

(via Associated Press)

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