Objective: Advancements in oncologic therapy have increased long-term survival rates for children with childhood cancers. As survival has increased, the secondary effects of treatment have come into focus for patients and family. Infertility preservation in prepubertal children is a particularly difficult task as options are limited compared to adult counterparts with mature gametes.
Methods: A systematic review of the published literature was conducted using keywords relevant to fertility preservation in the pediatric population undergoing oncologic treatment.
Results: We review the impact of cancer therapy upon gonadal function and identify the risk factors for future infertility in the prepubertal population. Treatment modifications that could modify the degree of potential damage to reproductive organs yet maintain oncologic principles were highlighted. Pubertal males and females have the opportunity to donate mature sperm or oocytes as do their adult counterparts; however, for the prepubertal child this is not the case. The options for these patients are considered investigational at this point and center on testicular tissue cryopreservation in males and oophorectomy vs ovarian cortical tissue cryopreservation in females.
Conclusion: Infertility is an unfortunate side effect of oncologic treatment. Options are limited in the prepubertal population but tissue preservation and potential fertility should be discussed with all at-risk patients and their parents.
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