Fertility-Sparing Options for Cervical Cancer
Gynecologic oncologists and reproductive medicine specialists at NYU Langone’s Fertility Center work as a team to coordinate care and help women with cervical cancer explore all fertility-sparing options.
Fertility-sparing treatments for cervical cancer include conization and radical trachelectomy surgery, which is often performed using minimally invasive techniques. Other approaches, such as egg or embryo freezing, are also available.
In women with small cancerous growths confined to the cervix, doctors can use conization to manage the condition.
With this procedure, your doctor removes a cone-shaped piece of tissue from the cervix. Conization removes cancerous tissue high up in the cervical canal, along with a border of surrounding healthy tissue, to help ensure that all of the cancer cells have been taken out.
During this procedure, the surgeon uses either a scalpel inserted through the vagina or a laser to remove a piece of cervical tissue. Doctors usually perform this type of procedure in an outpatient surgical center, often with general anesthesia.
Women with small tumors and early cervical cancer who want to preserve their fertility may be candidates for a radical trachelectomy. In this procedure, doctors leave the uterus, the ovaries, which contain a woman’s eggs, and fallopian tubes, which carry the eggs to the uterus, in place. They remove the cervix and some surrounding tissue, a small portion of the upper vagina, and nearby lymph nodes. The uterus is connected to the remaining portion of the vagina. This allows a woman to carry a pregnancy.
Women who become pregnant after this procedure must have a cesarean delivery, in which an incision is made in the abdomen in order to deliver the baby, and have an increased risk of a premature delivery. They should therefore visit a high-risk pregnancy specialist.
Whenever possible, surgeons at NYU Langone perform radical trachelectomy using a minimally invasive technique such as laparoscopy or robotic surgery.
Other Fertility-Preservation Options
Freezing eggs, also known as oocyte cryopreservation, may be a useful fertility-preserving option for women with cervical cancer, especially if they have treatments such as radiation and chemotherapy that can damage a woman’s store of eggs.
Your decision to freeze eggs may delay cancer treatment for a couple of weeks, while fertility drugs stimulate egg production. Our gynecologic oncologists and fertility experts work together to coordinate your care and ensure that this delay is a safe option for you. The eggs are then retrieved and frozen for later use.
Although a woman without a uterus cannot become pregnant, these fertility-preservation techniques offer a woman with cancer a chance to have a biological child through the use of a surrogate—another woman who carries the baby until birth.
Our gynecologic oncologists and reproductive medicine specialists work with you to discuss all of your family planning options, helping you determine which is right for you.