Thinking of the Future During Cancer Treatment

CURE, CURE® Women's Cancers 2021 Special Issue,

Doctors and survivors urge women to consider the future both before and after receiving a cancer diagnosis.

Cancer can affect women of any age, but what happens when a woman has to think about her reproductive years before she is ready to have children? If cancer treatment involves the removal of ovaries or the uterus, for example, thoughts of having children — if that’s a woman’s wish — may occur sooner than expected.

The good news is that adolescents and women with cancer have options if they see children in their future. In this special issue of CURE®, we speak with two women who underwent processes, such as freezing their eggs, to ensure they can potentially have children later. Although women sometimes are still able to conceive naturally after cancer treatment, having another option may ease their minds. One woman details her journey when she and her husband were ready to have children and she received a diagnosis of cancer, whereas another woman wanted to wait a few years after treatment before thinking of children. We also spoke with several experts who highlighted the importance of discussing fertility with young patients at the same time treatments are discussed.

Also inside, a feature examines the use of targeted therapies for endometrial cancer, which is the most common gynecologic cancer. Although surgery is often the go-to treatment for women with endometrial cancer, some experience recurrence, resulting in the need for a more targeted option. This can include immunotherapy, which utilizes a patient’s immune system to destroy cancer cells.

Also meet a woman who was vaccinated for HPV in her 20s when the vaccine first became available, although it was too late, since she later received a diagnosis of cervical cancer. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention currently recommend vaccinating children starting at age 9 for HPV to potentially obtain the greatest cancer-preventing benefit for cervical cancer, among others. This woman now lobbies in Washington, D.C., and Boston, where she lives with her husband, for greater access to the HPV vaccine, in addition to screening and treatment for minority communities and people who live in rural areas.

This issue also covers a patient’s experiences with ovarian cancer, the importance of genetic testing in patients with a family history of cancer and several factors that may affect quality of life during cancer treatment or risk for the disease.

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