A cancer diagnosis can be life-altering on its own, but knowing that the treatment could jeopardize a woman’s fertility and potentially dash her hopes of having children can be downright devastating.
That’s what motivates the doctors at Oregon Reproductive Medicine in Portland to help women facing major health issues preserve their ability to have biological children. The clinic’s Fast Track program quickly moves women through the fertility procedures — completing the egg-retrieval process in a matter of weeks, rather than months — before they undergo chemotherapy treatment that could damage their eggs.
“If they’re able to conceive on their own, that’s great,” said Dr. Brandon Bankowski, a reproductive endocrinologist at Oregon Reproductive Medicine. “But if not, it’s a nice type of insurance policy for them. It gets them some hope when their world is kind of collapsing.”
Women facing major medical issues may seek egg retrieval for a couple of reasons, Bankowski said. One reason is the powerful drugs used to kill cancer cells also can damage eggs, reducing a woman’s ability to conceive.
Another reason is age. A woman diagnosed with cancer at age 34 may not be cleared for pregnancy for five or more years, depending on her treatment, Bankowski said. Her older age may make it more difficult to conceive naturally.