23 June 2021 | Wednesday | News
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Cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy can affect a woman's fertility by impacting the ovaries and other essential reproductive organs. After a cancer diagnosis, women Â– especially those in their reproductive age Â– might find bearing children a distant concept, but this need not be the case.
There is still hope for female cancer patients who wish to have children of their own with ovarian tissue preservation. Other options for fertility preservation are oocyte (egg) storage for in-vitro fertilization (IVF) and embryo storage. Patients will go through counseling by SHG's fertility specialists before each procedure.
To render more support to women with cancer, ICCS at Farrer Park Hospital already had the Young Women's Cancer Program in place. Helmed by Medical Oncologist Dr. Lee Guek Eng, the program provides diagnosis and treatment, fertility counseling and psychosocial support for young women. Through this program, Farrer Park Hospital and SHG will closely work with ICCS to increase awareness of fertility preservation services available.
According to the 2018 Singapore Cancer Registry Report, the incidence of cancer has been rising over the years, with 51.5% of cancer patients being women. Top cancers affecting women include breast cancer, colorectal cancer and lung cancer. According to the report, though the incidence rose with age, 153.7 per 100,000 women under the age of 40 are affected by the disease.
Ovarian tissue preservation does not require particular time in the menstrual cycle for stimulation. In addition, each ovarian tissue contains a reserve of eggs that are then frozen. Ovarian tissues can be preserved for up to 55 years. Patients who have completed their cancer treatment and are ready to reproduce can have the tissue returned to their bodies. Immediately after the ovarian tissue preservation procedure, patients can begin their cancer treatment.
SHG's Medical Chairman, Professor Ng Soon-Chye, said: "Ovarian tissue preservation does not require ovarian stimulation, and hence can be initiated at any time of a patient's menstrual cycle. Immediately after the procedure, the patient can begin her cancer treatment. There won't be time delay in cancer treatment."
"The Icon Young Women's Cancer Program is designed to address challenges that women may face and support them through this difficult time. We aim to empower young women throughout their cancer journey with necessary support and resources to beat cancer," said Ms. Serena Wee, Chief Executive Officer of Icon Cancer Centre (ASEAN).
"Cancer affects patients in more ways than we think. Besides treatments, we also want to highlight other aspects that are equally important. In this case, preserving the fertility of patients. The availability of this fertility preservation service at our hospital allows us to give patients greater reassurance that life after cancer can be normal and that women, if they wish, can still preserve their fertility, bear children of their own and build a family after conquering cancer," said Dr. Peng Chung Mien, Chief Executive Officer of Farrer Park Hospital.
While the service is a collaborative effort with Icon Cancer Centre in support of their young women cancer program, it is available for all oncologists who may like to explore the same for their young cancer patients.