After her first baby, Danielle Hargrave waited a few years to have a second,
But her hopes were dashed when she found out she had cervical cancer.
“I was nervous the first word was hysterectomy was what they wanted me to do,” she said.
It would have made pregnancy impossible even if it cured her cancer.
Danielle was far from alone.
“The average age of cervical cancer is young 40s that’s average so many women are younger and haven’t started families yet,” gynecologic oncologist Dr. Jeffrey M. Fowler said.
So researchers have worked hard to find ways to preserve fertility.
Breast cancer experts say there are ways to maintain fertility through breast cancer treatment.
“They may do embryo harvesting or egg harvesting and freezing,” Dr. Deanna Attai, a breast surgeon, said.
Unlike sperm freezing, embryos and eggs don’t always survive.
So, another choice.
“A medication called Lupron; a medicine that essentially puts the ovaries to sleep and a good number of those patients after chemotherapy will still regain their ovarian function,” Attai said.
Since cervical cancer involves surgery directly on the organ, a different approach was needed.
Fowler says that may be accomplished by avoiding a conventional hysterectomy with a unique operation called radical trachelectomy. Where only fraction of the tissue is removed.
Studies show it may cure cancer while preserving fertility.
“Half the women who have it have tried to become pregnant; 70 percent of them became pregnant,” Fowler said.
Danielle was one of them.
She had to postpone getting pregnant for a few more years to make sure the cancer was gone; but it was more than worth the wait!
“We caught this early; it was definitely the route I was going to have to take,” she said.