Statistics show that 1 in 8 women will face a breast cancer diagnosis. Generally, these women focus all their efforts on surviving and beating cancer.
During Breast Cancer Awareness month, Dr. Mark Denker, founder of Palm Beach Fertility Center, wants to spread the word about fertility preservation so that patients can have the option to create or expand their families once they are cancer-free.
“When a woman receives a cancer diagnosis, her world is turned upside down, and she might not realize that chemotherapy and radiation can impair future fertility,” explained Dr. Denker. “We partner with oncologists and surgeons to ensure that the ability to conceive isn’t lost during life-saving cancer treatment.”
Although no woman wants to contemplate a battle with cancer, one South Florida resident recently found herself facing that exact situation. Mammograms are not generally recommended for women under 40, but this young woman found a lump and mentioned it to her doctor. Last August, the patient, age 27 at the time, was sent for a mammogram to rule out any cause for concern.
“The mammogram and ultrasound revealed Stage 2 intraductal carcinoma,” she said. “Before this happened, I had a friend at work mention that if you were diagnosed with cancer, you could have trouble conceiving after treatment. Being so young, I wanted to protect my options for a family.”
Although the patient’s doctors recommended immediate treatment, they were willing to let her explore fertility preservation, which on an accelerated course normally delays cancer treatment by only 2 to 3 weeks.
“Typically, the time needed to preserve a woman’s ability to conceive won’t interfere with her overall prognosis,” Dr. Denker said. “We fast track cancer cases so that these women can begin treatment, yet still protect their fertility.”
“I opted for a single mastectomy,” explained the young cancer patient. “The week of my surgery, I went straight to Dr. Denker for egg retrieval. We preserved 19 embryos for the future.”
The fertility preservation process is similar to traditional in-vitro fertilization (IVF). Dr. Denker regulates the patient’s cycle, and prescribes fertility medications to stimulate egg production. At the appropriate time, Dr. Denker retrieves the eggs, and in this case, fertilized them with the husband’s sperm to produce embryos for freezing. Palm Beach Fertility Center is now using the latest freezing techniques to produce the best outcomes for patients.
“With advanced technology called vitrification, we can freeze unfertilized eggs as well as embryos until patients are ready to proceed, which may be years later,” said Dr. Denker.
After five months of chemotherapy and 36 rounds of radiation, the young cancer patient is on the road to recovery; however, her doctors have said she must wait five years before trying to get pregnant.
“The main thing I want other women to know is that it’s good to preserve your options, even if you don’t pursue it any further,” she said.
About Palm Beach Fertility Center
For over 15 years, Dr. Mark Denker has provided Palm Beach and Boca Raton residents with top-quality infertility services. We offer state-of the art facilities, advanced fertility treatment and a supportive team to help patients as they pursue their goals of parenthood. For more information about the clinic, please visit www.palmbeachfertility.com.