It has been reported for the first time in Germany that healthy ovarian tissue has been taken from a non-pregnant woman with cancer and then re-implanted after cancer therapy. The patient is now 32 years old and could become pregnant as a result. This case is described by Ralf Dittrich and his colleagues from Erlangen University Hospital in the current issue of Deutsches Ärzteblatt International (Dtsch Arztebl Int 2008; 105: 274-8).
Anal carcinoma was diagnosed in this young patient in 2004 and chemotherapy followed by radiotherapy was recommended. As the ovaries lie near to the tumor, they are often damaged by therapy of this sort and the women become infertile. The Erlangen physicians succeeded in removing healthy ovarian tissue from the woman before treatment and to freeze it. The patient was then given the recommended cancer treatment. She tolerated this well and has not suffered any relapse. On the other hand, her menstrual periods had stopped, in spite of hormone treatment, for two years. For this reason, the patient's conserved ovarian material was inserted endoscopically into her pelvis. She subsequently reported her first menstruation. After this operation, it may be possible for her to become pregnant, although this has not happened yet.
The authors consider that the affected patients should be provided with more information, so that they are aware of this possibility of retaining fertility.