How to Preserve Fertility in Cancer Patients Treated with Chemotherapy

Women receiving radiation and chemotherapy may experience damage to their ovaries.

A treatment that targets proteins involved in oocytes apoptosis could preserve fertility in women receiving radiation and chemotherapy, a study in Cell Press found.

Unfortunately, besides causing DNA damage in cancer cells, chemotherapy and radiation can also cause damage to normal tissue, such as tissue in the ovaries.

“The good news is that more young women are surviving cancer, reflecting the advent of better and more efficient therapies,” said researcher Ewelina Bolcun-Filas, PhD. “But, many cancer treatments increase the risk of premature ovarian insufficiency (POI) and infertility.”

Researchers believe the natural response to the damage is the elimination of damaged oocytes through apoptosis.

However, recent studies conducted by Bolcun-Filas on mice demonstrated how targeting these proteins involved in apoptosis can protect oocytes, therefore preventing infertility in women exposed to radiation.

“A better appreciation of oocyte response to radiation and anticancer drugs will uncover new targets for the development of specialized therapies to prevent ovarian failure,’ the study authors wrote.