A cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming and comes with tough decisions, no matter who you are. For young adults and children diagnosed with cancer, there is an added layer of decisions to be made around preserving their fertility.
Some cancers, such as ovarian or uterine, directly impact fertility because they involve the reproductive organs. But all cancers have the potential to impact fertility because treatments like chemotherapy can damage the ovaries.
Ten percent of cancer cases occur in young adults and children. These patients and their families are suddenly faced with an issue they may not even have thought about yet –whether they want to have children in the future.
For women, egg freezing is an option, but the decision is a tough one. The service is rarely covered by insurance and can cost $10,000 to $15,000 out of pocket. Moreover, you have to decide quickly, as fertility preservation needs to be done before starting cancer treatment, and delaying treatment may impact its chances of success.
There is currently a bill in the Oregon Senate that could ease the burden for those diagnosed with cancer. Senate Bill 911 would require insurance carriers to cover fertility preservation services (like sperm and egg freezing) for patients at risk of future infertility due to medical treatments. This would take the financial barrier out of the equation.
Starting a family as a survivor
For cancer survivors who are ready to start a family, there are lots of decisions to be made based on their age, cancer status, whether or not they were able to freeze their eggs before treatment, and many other personal factors.