Global Health Asia-Pacific July 2022 | Page 13


Fertility Preservation Offers New Hope for Cancer Patients

The diagnosis of cancer is a shock in itself and then comes the risk of infertility after cancer treatment – this thought can indeed be devastating . However , with Oncofertility services , patients diagnosed with cancer can now have a ray of hope to have a family after completing cancer treatment .

Oncofertility services are not new . The concept was brought forward in the 1990s to provide potential reproductive treatment for cancer survivors as most cancer therapies may impair or permanently abolish a person ’ s ability to conceive . Technology advancements have allowed early cancer diagnosis and improved a patient ’ s survival . Unfortunately , the lack of consensus between oncologists and fertility experts in planning a comprehensive treatment plan following cancer diagnosis may have led to the loss of fertility potential amongst young cancer survivors .
A unit specializing in oncology and reproductive endocrinology is essential to address the needs for reproductive preservation of cancer patients . In addition , patients with non-malignant conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and beta�thalassemia may also benefit from the service as the disease or treatment may negatively affect the reproductive axis .
With this in mind , Sunfert International Fertility Centre established an �ncofertility hub at their flagship fertility centre in Bangsar South , Kuala Lumpur in 2020 . The Oncofertility Centre is headed by Associate Professor Dr Mohd Faizal Bin Ahmad who is a specialist in Reproductive Endocrinology and Oncofertility and he trained in In-Vitro Maturation and Ovarian Tissue Cryopreservation at the St Marianna School of Medicine in Japan . He is also the Vice President of the Malaysian Society of Fertility Preservation and represents Malaysia as a Board member of the Asian Society of Fertility Preservation . A team of highly trained scientists , nurses and counsellors form the support team at Sunfert ’ s Oncofertility Centre to take the patient through this emotional journey .
First , patients will be screened to determine the risk of ovarian and testicular failure based on the chemotherapy regime . Then , the suitable fertility preservation treatment will be offered accordingly to determine fertility potential . If cryopreservation of gametes is chosen as the fertility preservation option , the clinical and scientific team will perform a procedure called cryopreservation ( freezing ) of sperms or eggs ( oocytes ) before the patient starts chemotherapy or radiotherapy . For female cancer patients who are married , the oocytes are fertilised with their husbands ’ sperm in the laboratory to create embryos . The embryos are then cryopreserved and later implanted through a procedure called frozen embryo transfer after cancer treatment is completed and the woman is in remission .
In addition to this , patients facing cancer treatment can also have the option of freezing their ovarian tissues ( the organ that stores eggs ) through a procedure called Ovarian Tissue Cryopreservation ( OTC ). OTC is especially important for fertility preservation of pre-puberty cancer patients or patients who have very limited fertility preservation treatment timeframe such as patients with haematological cancer where toxic chemotherapeutic agents are necessary for treatment soonest possible .
Usually the impact of cancer treatment is irreversible and most patients perceive cancer treatment as terminal and subsequent life events to be worthless leading to poor treatment compliance and also dropouts . A typical scenario where Oncofertility services can give hope are patients with breast cancer . Upon the diagnosis of breast cancer and before starting chemotherapy or radiotherapy , a woman can opt to freeze her eggs or ovarian tissues for the purpose of future fertility treatment to have a baby . The knowledge of being able to conceive after treatment also motivates a woman to proceed with confidence for cancer treatment . There is a need for greater awareness for fertility preservation , especially when cancer treatment is now more successful and cancer survivors are still in the reproductive age group .
At Sunfert ’ s Oncofertility Centre , we are equipped with the latest state of the art medical equipment and our team is ready to respond to urgent request for fertility preservation and OTC . During the OTC procedure , the ovarian tissues are harvested via laparoscopy and frozen using a special device and media . The procedure is done under general anaesthesia and is associated with minimal risks . The harvested ovarian tissues can be cryopreserved for future use for up to 15 years or more . After recovery from cancer , the ovarian tissues are transplanted into the woman to restore fertility for the purpose of achieving pregnancy either naturally or through in-vitro fertilisation ( IVF ).
In Malaysia , Sunfert is the only private fertility centre offering �TC services and we are poised to cater for the Oncofertility needs of the region . Sunfert also offers a full range of fertility treatments including in-vitro fertilisation ( IVF ) and Pre-implantation Genetic Testing . The advanced reproductive technology procedures coupled with excellent oncology management is paramount to achieving the best outcome for the patient .
Sunfert is committed to create greater awareness both among cancer patients as well as the doctors that manage them such as surgeons and oncologists . Cancer survivors can now look forward to achieving a better quality of life by completing their family .
Dr Mohd Faizal Bin Ahmad Reproductive Endocrinology and Oncofertility Specialist
To find out more please call us at + 603 7622 8688 or visit www . sunfert . com
GlobalHealthAsiaPacific . com JULY 2022