Almost all standard therapies for gynecologic cancer, including surgical intervention, gonadotoxic chemotherapy, and radiation therapy, threaten a woman’s childbearing potential. Preservation of fertility should be discussed with premenopausal women with early-stage gynecologic cancer shortly after diagnosis and, for women who desire to preserve fertility, during treatment planning. Many authors have investigated both oncologic and reproductive outcomes following fertility-sparing therapy, and there is ongoing development of assisted reproduction techniques available to cancer patients and survivors. Women with early-stage (IA1-IB1) cervical cancer may be candidates for fertility-sparing cervical conization, simple trachelectomy, or radical trachelectomy. In women with stage I epithelial ovarian cancer, fertility-sparing surgery appears safe overall, although controversy remains in patients with high-risk features (eg, high pathologic grade, clear cell histology, or stage IC disease). In women with low-grade, early-stage endometrial cancer, hormonal therapy has emerged as a viable option. Criteria for patient selection for fertility-sparing therapy are not well defined, thus patients and providers must carefully discuss potential risks and benefits. In general, in carefully selected patients, survival outcomes do not appear to differ significantly between radical and fertility-sparing approaches. Women who undergo fertility-sparing therapies may experience a number of fertility and obstetric complications. Preconception counseling with high-risk obstetric specialists is important to optimize health before a woman attempts to conceive. Identifying appropriate candidates for fertility-sparing treatments, assessing fertility potential, and helping women conceive after cancer treatment is best accomplished through multidisciplinary collaboration between gynecologic oncologists and fertility specialists.
- cervical cancer
- ovarian cancer
- uterine cancer
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Contributors Each of the authors contributed to the planning, writing, and editing of this article in an equal manner.
Funding National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute, grants K08CA234333 and P30CA016672.
Competing interests None declared.
Patient consent for publication Not required.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.