Teva supports IVF-Worldwide to gain insights into possibility of preserving fertility in women with cancer
Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd have announced that it will support IVF-Worldwide with a research grant to improve knowledge of fertility preservation protocols for women diagnosed with cancer before initiating cancer treatment.
An estimated 40,000 women aged 18-40 are diagnosed with cancer in Europe each year.[i],[ii] While women of child-bearing age who are diagnosed with cancers such as leukaemia, lymphoma and multiple myeloma have a high survival rate,[iii] cancer treatments such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy may cause permanent damage to their ovaries and greatly reduce their chances of having a child after treatment.[iv]
In most cases, the only chance of future conception is the retrieval and preservation of oocytes (eggs) or the preservation of embryos derived from these oocytes.[v] Both procedures must happen before cancer treatment is initiated, often within days of diagnosis to avoid delays in starting cancer treatment.[vi] The research aims to improve knowledge of various ovarian stimulation protocols to produce oocytes for cryopreservation prior to chemotherapy or radiotherapy and establish the most effective protocol.
“At present, a lack of data regarding the number of preservation protocols and their success rates make it difficult for physicians to choose the best possible fertility preservation treatment for their patients,” said Professor Milton Leong, Medical Director The Women’s Clinic Hong Kong and co-founder of IVF-Worldwide. “This research will allow us to gain insights into ovarian stimulation protocols for oocyte/embryo preservation and draw conclusions on optimal stimulation protocols for fertility preservation in women with cancer.”
Evidence shows that specialised counselling about fertility risk and preservation options is linked to a greater quality of life for cancer survivors.[vii] Recent research has found that women who did not undergo pre-treatment fertility preservation experienced more regret about their decision than those who did undergo treatment to preserve their fertility, and that this may consequently affect their psychosocial wellbeing.[viii]
“This research will enable collaboration between IVF-Worldwide and approximately one hundred IVF centres across seven European countries. It will raise awareness among oncologists of the opportunities for young women diagnosed with cancer who wish to try and preserve their future fertility,” said Professor Zeev Shoham, co-founder of IVF-Worldwide and co-editor of the Textbook of Assisted Reproductive Techniques.
Dr Ghislaine Leleu, Vice President, Head of Medical Affairs, Teva Europe stated that: “Teva has a long legacy in oncology and in women’s health. We strive to develop new solutions to unmet medical needs. In this case, by supporting IVF-Worldwide research, we aim to provide support to the scientific community to find a solution for young women facing cancer who want to increase their chances of motherhood later on.”
[i]. Kohler BA, Ward E, McCarthy BJ, Schymura MJ, Ries LA, Eheman C, Jemal A, Anderson RN, Ajani UA, Edwards BK. Annual report to the nation on the status of cancer, 1975–2007, featuring tumors of the brain and other nervous system. J. Natl. Cancer Inst. 2011;103:714–736
[ii]. Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program (www.seer.cancer.gov) Research Data (1973–2008), National Cancer Institute, DCCPS, Surveillance Research Program, Cancer Statistics Branch, released April 2011, based on the November 2010 submission, with haematological cancers accounting for 18% of new diagnoses in women under the age of 45
[iii]. Lawrenz B, Jauckus J, Kupka MS, Strowitzki T, von Wolff M. Fertility preservation in >1,000 patients: patient’s characteristics, spectrum, efficacy and risks of applied preservation techniques. Arch Gynecol Obstet. 2011;283:651–6.
[iv]. Joseph M Letourneau, James F Smith, Erin E Ebbel, Amaranta Craig, Patricia P Katz, Marcelle I Cedars, Mitchell P Rosen Racial, Socioeconomic, and Demographic Disparities in Access to Fertility Preservation in Young Women Diagnosed with Cancer, Cancer. 2012 15; 118(18): 4579–4588.
[v]. Noyes N, Melzer K, Druckenmiller S, Fino EF, Smith M, Knopman JM. Experiences in fertility preservation: lessons learned to ensure that fertility and reproductive autonomy remain options for cancer survivors. J Assist Reprod Genet 2013 30:1263-1270.
[vi]. Koch J, Ledger W. Ovarian stimulation protocols for onco-fertility patients. J Assist Reprod Genet 2013 30:203-206.
[vii]. Letourneau JM et al. Pre-treatment fertility counseling and fertility preservation improve quality of life in reproductive age women with cancer. Cancer 2012; 15;118(6):1710-1717.
[viii]. Benedict C, Thom B, Kelvin JF . Young Adult Female Cancer Survivors’ Decision Regret About Fertility Preservation. Journal of Adolescent and Young Adult Oncology 2015 4(4):213-218.