Reproductive medicine advice before cancer treatment

According to a study carried out by the American Cancer Association in 2011, pre-treatment counseling in reproductive medicine and fertility preservation could improve the quality of life of patients undergoing cancer treatment.

The study in question was conducted in a population of 1041 women of reproductive age (between 18 and 40 years). These women had received cancer treatment and some of them showed signs of depression and low levels of quality of life. The retrospective study consisted of providing them with psychological instruments that measured the influence of the information they received before treatment, in the presence of signs of sadness and in the levels of quality of life after the intervention.

The results divided these women into the following groups:

Mainly at puberty, they stimulate the development of secondary sexual characteristics (breast growth, widening of the hips, enlargement of external and internal genitalia), regulate the growth of long bones; among other.

All this complex system of organization and hormonal secretions are orchestrated by the Hypothalamus-Pituitary-Ovary Axis Fig.2.

It is important to highlight that exposure to sunlight and the percentage of body adipose tissue are directly related to menarche and menstrual cycles. Hence, girls or adolescents living in tropical or warm regions have an earlier onset than women from cold regions and with fewer hours of sun exposure during the year. Likewise, women with significant degrees of malnutrition and/or overweight can delay the onset of their menarche, as on some occasions the onset of secondary sexual characteristics.

In Fig.3 we can see the typical and best-known picture of the menstrual cycle, summarizing what happens both at the ovarian level for the growth of an oocyte, as well as the action of the ovarian hormones that are generated with this development and the endometrial thickening. at the level of the uterine cavity.

  • The eldest, out of a population of 560 women (61%), only received advice from the oncology team.

  • Another group of 45 women (5%) received cancer counseling and reproductive medicine counseling.

  • A group of 36 women (4%) received the information from the two previous groups and also took the precaution of preserving their fertility.

Based on the variables and the results of the psychological instruments that were applied, the group that had the best indicators of quality of life were the women who received more counseling and preserved their fertility. The group that received advice from both specialties had good scores in terms of quality of life, although not as high as the previous group. The group whose advice focused only on oncological aspects had the lowest scores in terms of quality of life of these three groups and presented higher levels of indicators of grief, the study does not show the results of the group of the remaining 30%.

“In conclusion, based on these results, good advice from an oncology and reproductive medicine team and knowing the options that one has to be mothers or fathers and preserve fertility after the disease, can improve the quality of life of patients undergoing cancer treatment.

Dr. Carlos A. Cortés
Dr. Carlos A. Cortés
Surgeon Oncologist
View Profile