6 May 2016

Young Australian cancer survivor's future fertility - Focus of Australia's first Fertility Preservation Summit

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Melbourne IVF

MELBOURNE 6 May: Australia’s first Fertility Preservation Summit for professionals and consumers highlights the national interest to ensure equitable access to fertility preservation for all Australian cancer survivors especially children, adolescents and young men & women.

“Fertility preservation in the paediatric and adolescent realm is in its infancy and it presents many clinical and ethical challenges,”  said A/Professor Kate Stern, Head of the Fertility Preservation Service at Melbourne IVF and the Royal Women’s Hospital, Melbourne and keynote speaker at the Summit in Melbourne today.

“Fertility preservation is a rapidly evolving field of medicine and the key especially for young people diagnosed with cancer is a coordinated, rapid response to ensure a patient’s fertility is optimally preserved and options for a future family of their own are discussed and accessible,” she explained.

“Improvements in oncology treatments have resulted in the majority of patients diagnosed with the commonest forms of cancer expecting to survive their diagnosis. However, certain chemotherapy (and radiotherapy) treatments can lead to impaired fertility,” A/Prof Stern said.

“A parent receiving a shocking medical diagnosis will focus on immediate treatment and rightly so but today with advances in egg and sperm freezing, tissue freezing and IVF, future fertility is achievable for most patients,” said A/Prof Stern.

This Summit accelerates the collaboration surrounding cancer-related infertility issues and aims to raise public awareness of fertility preservation for cancer survivors and infertility induced by other medical treatments.

“Oncology paradigms are changing, most children with cancer will survive their treatment. Therefore oncology care also involves consideration of long term issues such as fertility. Fertility preservation can raise complex issues for parents and paediatric health providers,” said Dr Yasmin Jayasinghe Paediatric and Adolescent Gynaecologist with the Department of Gynaecology, Royal Children's Hospital, gynaecologist with the Reproductive Services and the Oncology/Dysplasia Service at the Royal Women's Hospital, Melbourne.

Today’s Fertility Preservation Summit builds upon the new national pilot registry, a database being rolled out across Australia to track fertility outcomes of oncology patients. “The Summit is the ultimate forum to share knowledge among health professionals and the public of the latest novel, evidence-based approaches to fertility preservation, research, raising awareness and access to treatment no matter where people live,” said A/Prof Stern. This research was funded by the Victorian Government by funding from the Victorian Cancer Agency. 

The Fertility Preservation Taskforce from the Royal Children’s Hospital and the Royal Women's Hospital developed the first fertility preservation program for children in Australia. It is now one of the most established fertility programs for children.

Various protection and preservation strategies are employed in an effort to improve fertility and/or quality of life outcomes in patients diagnosed with the most common forms of cancer. A/ Professor Kate Stern will present on the current available fertility preservation options, on how assisted reproductive technologies have provided the arena for the development of fertility preservation options and strategies for patients faced with a cancer diagnosis alongside other specialists.

The Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre and the Victorian Cancer Agency support this stimulating and thought-provoking summit organised by the Fertility Preservation Taskforce which is a collaborative association of fertility specialists, gynaecologists, paediatric providers and oncologists committed to fostering collaborative research, education and awareness of fertility preservation options.

Learn more about female fertility preservation

Learn more about male fertility preservation

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