Published on March 9, 2020
Andrew Schorr, Patient Power Co-Founder, spoke with Dr. Tapan M. Kadia to discuss protecting a patient’s fertility during treatment for acute myeloid leukemia. Infertility risk is based on several factors, including the type of treatment received and the age of the patient. The good news is that there are several protective and proactive steps that can be taken to increase the likelihood of successful fertility after treatment.
“Usually, even with induction chemotherapy for acute myeloid leukemia, whether it be standard 7+3 or higher-dose cytarabine-based regimens…people don’t become sterile after receiving induction chemotherapy,” Dr. Kadia reassures. There is a chance of decreased fertility immediately following induction, but most patients are successful at maintaining fertility and can conceive.
In younger patients, if there is time, it is suggested that patients bank sperm. Egg retrieval is an invasive procedure, and often a patient’s current medical condition makes it difficult to complete this procedure. Dr. Kadia does advise “to consult with a gynecologist who can use ovarian suppression with hormones to not only suppress menstrual cycles, but to try to protect the ovaries during times of chemotherapy.” While fertility may be delayed, it is unlikely to be permanent.
Fertility is at greater risk with allogeneic stem cell transplants—chemotherapies and the conditioning therapy can lead to infertility in some patients. In this case, patients are referred to specialists to talk about sperm banking and egg preservation to increase chances of pregnancy in the future.
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