Ovarian tissue freezing is an experimental procedure used in humans since the mid-1990′s. This technique may be an option for women whose oncologist recommends they don’t use hormone stimulation or are unable to delay treatment to begin hormonal stimulation, for women who have moral or ethical issues with egg and embryo freezing and for teens as well as pre-pubescent girls. It may not be a viable option for women whose cancer has spread to the ovaries or who carry the breast cancer genetic mutation. To date, 15 babies have been born worldwide from ovarian tissue freezing. The promise of this technique could prove to be revolutionary for cancer patients.
Doctors remove part or all of an ovary in a one-hour outpatient surgical procedure. The tissue that is removed is divided into thin strips, each of which contains hormone-producing cells and immature eggs. The tissue is then frozen and stored for future use. When the tissue is re-implanted into the body, hormone function can be temporarily restored.
The average cost of ovarian tissue freezing is $12,000.
The Oncofertility Consortium® is leading the charge on cutting edge, ovarian tissue freezing research. The consortium is a national, interdisciplinary initiative designed to explore the reproductive futures of cancer survivors and supported by the National Institutes of Health through the NIH Roadmap for Medical Research/Common Fund. Members of their National Physicians Cooperative participate in ovarian tissue freezing clinical trials.
While spanning over 50 sites nationwide, the core of the Oncofertility Consortium® rests at Northwestern University’s Chicago and Evanston campuses. The Oncofertility Consortium® is led by Dr. Teresa Woodruff who is the Thomas J. Watkins Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University. She coined the term oncofertility to describe a new discipline that bridges oncology and reproductive medicine in order to discover and apply new fertility preservation options for young patients with fertility-threatening diseases or treatments. Dr. Woodruff is also Chief of the Division of Fertility Preservation and Director of the newly created Institute for Women’s Health Research at Northwestern University.
If you are a patient interested in ovarian tissue freezing and participating in these clinical trials contact the FERTLINE at 1-866-708-FERT (3378)