University of Edinburgh

Enabling cancer survivors to have children

Some cancer therapies can leave women infertile or bring on early menopause, denying survivors the chance to have a family.

Freezing eggs is often not practical because the process takes several weeks, which can delay the start of urgently-needed treatment. Furthermore, this approach is not appropriate for girls and some younger women.

This could now change thanks to researchers at the University of Edinburgh who have developed new procedures for freezing ovarian tissue. They discovered that ovarian tissue obtained via keyhole surgery could be frozen for long-term storage.

The research has shown that ovarian cycles and fertility can be restored by placing the frozen tissue back into the original donor in an animal model. The team also showed that this procedure can be performed safely using minimally invasive keyhole surgery in adult women and girls, raising hopes of a rapid approach to preserve fertility for women with cancer.