Tomorrow’s VGR: Psychological Aspects of Fertility Preservation

lawson.cfmTomorrow, August 8th, we are excited to be hosting Angela Lawson, PhD, Assistant Professor of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, for our Virtual Grand Rounds (VGR) at 10 AM CDT, entitled, “Psychological Aspects of Fertility Preservation.” The decision to participate in fertility preservation treatment after a cancer diagnosis is psychologically complex. Dr. Lawson will discuss the psychosocial issues related to adult female fertility preservation including, cost, rapid decision-making, ethical dilemmas, and posthumous reproduction. Click HERE to watch Dr. Lawson present her Virtual Grand Rounds, tomorrow at 10 AM CDT.

Our LIVE Virtual Grand Rounds provide researchers, clinicians, and others the opportunity to hear emerging research findings in cancer and fertility from anywhere across the globe and participate through a live video chat. Virtual and in-person attendees to the rounds can receive free continuing medical education (CME) credits by following the instructions HERE.  Participants can also receive free CME’s by watching a recorded version of the Virtual Grand Rounds which can be found on our website HERE. To read more about receiving education credits from the Oncofertility Consortium, read about the Oncofertility Online program. In addition, we would love to hear your feedback or any suggestions you may have on topics relevant to cancer and fertility for future Virtual Grand Rounds. Visit our Virtual Grand Rounds webpage to submit your ideas.

After Cancer: Surrogacy As a Fertility Option

By Jen Rachman

At age 26, I was living my life, self-sufficient, secure and independent. I took care of myself physically and emotionally. Life was nearly perfect, until the routine trip to the gynecologist that wound up saving my life.

When you hear the words, “you have cancer,” there is truly no way to be prepared to absorb all that comes with it. My now unstable life became filled with terms like prognosis, oncologist, surgery, treatment and chemo.  Suddenly, my secure sense of self became unraveled and presented me with a new identity – cancer patient.

My oncologists’ main goal was to rid me of cancer as quickly as possible. The recommended course of action when diagnosed with ovarian cancer is to have a complete hysterectomy.  I was only 26 therefore the idea of parenthood wasn’t even on my radar yet.  But suddenly the idea of losing my ability to bear children was becoming a harsh reality.  Not willing to relinquish the option of one day having children, I stressed to my doctors how important it was for them to make every attempt at preserving my fertility. Over the course of 7-months, I endured three surgeries, and six rounds of chemotherapy.  Cancer took my hair, put my body in menopause, left me feeling twice my age, and made me infertile.

As time passed further from my date of diagnosis and it became less scary to invest in the idea of leading a longer, healthy life, my thoughts about future began to change.  My then boyfriend and I were married in 2005, and after several years we became comfortable exploring the idea of having a family.  I had come to accept the loss of my fertility and began exploring the options.  I reached out to my oncologist and other survivors I saw as support about surrogacy and adoption.  It quickly became apparent that there was a lack of information about surrogacy.

We met with an organization called Circle Surrogacy, and immediately felt comfortable trusting them with guiding us through this process.  The entire experience felt “right,” as I believe this is the way we were intended to become a family.  Our surrogate is truly an amazing woman who we felt connected to from the start.  The day our boy was born was truly the best day of my life.  It was as if all the struggle and loss caused by cancer had been undone.  Or perhaps more so, solidified the reason for the journey. Through my son’s birth, I realized my experience with cancer and surrogacy brought me a greater sense of purpose. Utilizing my 12-years experience as a social worker, I now coordinate surrogacy outreach to the cancer community.

For more information about your fertility options, please visit the Oncofertility Consortium patient webpage HERE. To learn more about Circle Surrogacy, please click HERE.

2013 Oncofertility Conference: CALL FOR ABSTRACTS!

GlobeThe 7th annual Oncofertility Conference: Cancer and Fertility Around the Globe, is September 9 & 10, 2013, in Chicago, IL, at Prentice Women’s Hospital. The Oncofertility Consortium is seeking abstract submissions for the poster session on Monday the 9th, for work related to the field of cancer and fertility. Each year we have numerous submissions that we must choose from to present to the distinguished oncofertility network of researchers, healthcare providers, patients, and advocates. If you have some fascinating research that you’d like to share, if you are an organization that works directly or indirectly with oncofertility, or if you are doing anything that could benefit the cancer and fertility community, please send in your poster! The deadline is August 1, 2013, so hurry and get them in. Please visit our conference webpage to register for the conference, view the agenda, and submit your abstracts. We look forward to seeing you in September!

Breast Cancer Genes Verdict a Triumph for Women

Below is a guest post by Megan Castle, Program Coordinator for the Women’s Health Research Institute at Northwestern University

By Megan Castle

Geneticists, researchers, and patients joined in celebration over last [month’s] unanimous Supreme Court ruling involving the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, colloquially referred to as the “breast cancer genes.”  The Supreme Court ruled that Myriad Genetics could not patent the BRCA1 and BRCA2 sequence of genes, because patents cannot be placed on that which is created organically in nature.  This decision opens the door for researchers outside of Myriad Genetics to study these genes, providing more opportunities to discover early signs of breast cancer susceptibility.  Karuna Jaggar, Breast Cancer Action’s Executive Director reported that this ruling was, “a tremendous victory for women with a known or suspected inherited risk of breast cancer. Today, the Court righted a wrong and has put patients’ health before corporate profits.”

Read more…

Support Young Adult Cancer Survivors in the 2nd Annual Chicago SUP YACS Classic!

On July 27th, 2013, the hugely popular Chicago SUP YACS Classic (Stand Up Paddleboard for Young Adult Cancer Survivors), is holding their second annual event on Chicago’s north side at Montrose Beach. The SUP YACS Classic is a chance for everyone in the Chicagoland area to come down to Montrose Beach and STAND UP for Young Adult Cancer Survivors (YACS) through SUP races, relays and family-friendly beach activities. Co-founding organization, True North Treks in a nonprofit that provides free, week-long backpacking and canoeing treks in nature for young adults with cancer (ages 18-39) to help them “get back on track” after cancer treatment. Together with co-founder Surfrider Foundation-Chicago, and the support of Kayak Chicago, the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center and Cerveza Pacifico Clara, this major event is one you won’t want to miss, and better yet, all proceeds benefit young adults with cancer.

Last year was a big success; however, there was only one 3-mile course for all of the adult and adolescent racing heats. This year, they’ve changed things up a bit to make it even more fun and accessible to everyone, whether you’re a pro SUP racer or this is your first time. Similar to last year, all races will start on the beach, but this year, they will finish in the water.

Here are the racing options:

“Hardcores” Adult 3-Mile Heat (Men & women 18 & older): This heat is for more advanced/competitive SUP racers with previous SUP racing experience or interests. Adult men& women will race 1.5 miles North up the coast, turn around at a designated marker and race back to the finish.

“Ride & Glide” Adult 3-Mile Heat (Men & women 18 & older): This heat is for those who are interested in the challenge of a 3-mile course, but are looking mostly for a nice ride & glide along the lake. Adult women will race 1.5 miles North up the coast, turn around at a designated marker and race back to the finish.

Adult & Adolescent 2-Mile Relay (13 & older):  Each 4-person team uses just 1 board to race .5 miles per person. All teams must have at least 1 female or male participant. This is a great opportunity for a group or friends or work colleagues to get fired up on the water!

Adolescent 1-Mile Heat (13-17): Adolescent boys and girls will race & ride .5 miles North up the coast, turn around at a designated marker and race back to the finish.

Kid’s SUP Sprint (12 and under): The kid’s SUP sprint will take place right at the beach front where a course will be set between 50 and 100 yards.

Beginner’s SUP Clinic: If you’ve always wanted to try out a SUP board but aren’t quite confident enough to join a race or relay this year, we’ll have a SUP clinic at the beach front to teach basic SUP skills so you can give it a try.

Register online before July 27th or you can pay $75 on race day (note, if you need to reserve a SUP board, the sooner you register the better as there is no guarantee a board will be available on the day of the event). If you register online prior to the event, you must print your ticket confirmation and present it at the event sign in. For more information including start times, prices per race, agenda, and registration, please click HERE.

We look forward to seeing you at the beach this July!

**Please note that this event requires a personal floatation device be worn at all ties while in the water.**

Support For Fertility Preservation Is Now An AMA Policy!

Should insurance companies cover the expenses of fertility preservation when a young cancer patient is at risk of losing their fertility as a result of their treatment? This is what members of the Michigan delegation asked the American Medical Association (AMA) to support by lobbying for federal legislation that would require insurers to cover fertility preservation when cancer treatments could result in infertility. As a result of their efforts, the resolution was adopted.

The new AMA policy states two points: 1) Support payment for fertility preservation, and 2) lobby for appropriate federal legislation requiring payment for oncofertility. This new policy would treat infertility as a medical condition, or a treatment-related adverse side effect. In other words, the patient is not “choosing” to undergo in vitro fertilization, the cancer and/or its treatment make that decision for them if biological parenthood is at stake.

Another way this policy would have a positive impact on the cancer community is that more young cancer patients would have the option to preserve their fertility, as currently, those services are cost-prohibitive for many who might otherwise seek them. In addition, often those high costs are what keep doctors from suggesting fertility preservation, and it prevents patients from  even seeing it as a viable option.

The timing of the AMA support is good because the CA bill, AB 912, is working its way through the California legislature requiring insurers to cover expenses for standard fertility preservation services when a necessary medical treatment may directly or indirectly cause iatrogenic infertility.  As we mentioned in a blog earlier this month, the California Assembly passed Bill AB 912 on May 29th and on July 10th, the California Senate Health Committee will address it.

The next steps toward including fertility preservation in insurance plans are state and federal level lobbying, and continued education and awareness about this critical issue. Please continue to support fertility preservation coverage by reaching out to your local government and lawmakers and encouraging them to recognize this important policy!

Tomorrow: Virtual Grands Rounds Covers Hormones and Cancer

stika.cfmTomorrow, June 27th, we are excited to be hosting Catherine Stika, MD, Associate Professor of Obstetrics & Gynecology at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, for our Virtual Grand Rounds (VGR) at 10 AM CDT, entitled, “Hormonal impact of cancer treatment and management of hormonal symptoms in female cancer survivors.” Dr. Stika will discuss hormonal changes with follicle depletion, menopausal symptoms and their physiological changes, hormonal replacement options, and symptom relief for breast cancer patients. Dr. Stika will also present options for complimentary and alternative medical options to treat hormonal symptoms in cancer survivors. Click HERE to watch Dr. Stika present her Virtual Grand Rounds, tomorrow at 10 AM CDT.

Our LIVE Virtual Grand Rounds provide researchers, clinicians, and others the opportunity to hear emerging research findings in cancer and fertility from anywhere across the globe and participate through a live video chat. Virtual and in-person attendees to the rounds can receive free continuing medical education (CME) credits by following the instructions HERE.  Participants can also receive free CME’s by watching a recorded version of the Virtual Grand Rounds which can be found on our website HERE. To read more about receiving education credits from the Oncofertility Consortium, read about the Oncofertility Online program. In addition, we would love to hear your feedback or any suggestions you may have on topics relevant to cancer and fertility for future Virtual Grand Rounds. Visit our Virtual Grand Rounds webpage to submit your ideas.

Get Empowered, A New Video Series for Childhood Cancer Survivors

Cancer survivorship starts at the time of disease diagnosis and continues throughout the rest of the patient’s life. Many survivors experience physical, emotional and day-to-day challenges after cancer treatment is done making survivorship a life-long journey. As a result, the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center launched a new educational video series entitled, Get Empowered: Life, Living, and Follow-Up Care After Childhood Cancer, aimed at supporting childhood cancer survivors with life after treatment. Get Empowered features videos with seven childhood cancer survivors and five healthcare professionals discussing issues that survivors face once their treatment ends. Topics in the videos are comprehensive and cover subjects such as compromised fertility as a result of cancer treatment.

The five educational videos available for viewing are as follows:

Introduction to Childhood Cancer and it’s Impact on Adult Survivors, with Aarati Didwania, MD, 
Medical Director and *STAR Program Coordinator, Karen Kinahan, RN, APN, 
Clinical Nurse Specialist and STAR Program Coordinator, and Lynne Wagner, PhD, 
Clinical Health Psychologist.

Transitioning to Adult Health Care with Karen Kinahan, RN, APN, 
Clinical Nurse Specialist and STAR Program Coordinator

Cardiac Risk Factors, Prevention, and Late Effects with Vera Rigolin, MD, 
Cardiologist

Fertility with Kristin Smith, Oncofertility Patient Navigator

Finding a “New Normal” and the Emotional Side of Survivorship with Lynne Wagner, PhD, 
Clinical Health Psychologist

The goal of the video series is to:

  • Enhance awareness of long term follow-up care recommended for adult survivors of childhood cancer
  • Learn from other survivors’ experiences with long term follow-up care
  • Help survivors anticipate and manage common medical and psychosocial issues that may arise after treatment
  • Share resources available to help survivors take an active role in their long term follow-up care plan
  • Empower current childhood cancer patients and long term survivors to embrace life as a survivor and take control of their medical and psychosocial care

Once cancer treatment ends, a new chapter in life begins. Knowing how to plan for and get the best possible post-treatment follow-up care can significantly impact your quality of life. For more information

 about the Get Empowered video series or the 
STAR Program, please contact
 Karen Kinahan at 312.695.4979.

*The STAR Program (Survivors Taking Action & Responsibility) is a comprehensive long-term follow-up program for adult survivors of pediatric cancer. The STAR Program follows survivors through adulthood focusing on their special medical and psychological needs.

Preventing Eggs’ Death from Chemotherapy

Scientists discover cause of immature eggs’ death from cancer drug and how to prevent it

MEDIA CONTACT: Marla Paul at (312) 503-8928 or marla-paul@northwestern.edu

CHICAGO — Young women who have cancer treatment often lose their fertility because chemotherapy and radiation can damage or kill their immature ovarian eggs, called oocytes. Now, Northwestern Medicine® scientists have found the molecular pathway that can prevent the death of immature ovarian eggs due to chemotherapy, potentially preserving fertility and endocrine function.

Scientists achieved this in female mice by adding a currently approved chemotherapy drug, imatinib mesylate, to another chemotherapy drug cisplatin.

The results will be presented Monday, June 17, at The Endocrine Society’s 95th Annual Meeting in San Francisco.

“This research advances the efforts to find a medical treatment to protect the fertility and hormone health of girls and young women during cancer treatment, “ said So-Youn Kim, the lead investigator and a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Teresa Woodruff, chief of fertility preservation at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

Adding imatinib mesylate to the drug cisplatin blocks the action of a protein that triggers a cascade of events resulting in death of the immature eggs. Kim discovered the protein that triggers the oocyte’s ultimate death is Tap63.

Previous research suggested that imatinib is a fertility-protecting drug against cisplatin, but reports of the drug’s effectiveness have been contradictory, Kim said. Her research confirms its effectiveness in an animal model.

She is currently testing imatinib with other chemotherapy agents to see if it also protects fertility in combination with them.

To demonstrate that imatinib protects oocytes against cisplatin, Kim and colleagues cultured ovaries (containing the immature eggs) from five-day-old mice with imatinib and cisplatin for 96 hours. The ovaries were then placed in a kidney capsule in the host mice to keep the ovaries alive. Two weeks later, the immature eggs were still alive. The imatinib did not block cisplatin-induced DNA damage, but Kim believes the eggs may recover and repair the damage over time.

“Previous reports have shown that chemotherapy and radiation-treated oocytes are able to recover from DNA damage,” Kim said.

The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development of the National Institutes of Health, grant U54 HD076188.

NORTHWESTERN NEWS: www.northwestern.edu/newscenter/

New Study Aims to Better Understand the Cause of “Chemo Brain”

Below is a guest post by Anthony J. Ryals, PhD, discussing a new study underway at Northwestern University looking at the effect chemotherapy and hormone depletion have on memory and cognition in cancer survivors. 

By Anthony J. Ryals, PhD

Prior research has indicated that up to 90% of chemotherapy recipients also receiving hormone depletion therapy (such as Tamoxifen) report disruptions in cognition including memory, attention, and planning. This type of disruption, sometimes termed “chemo fog” or “chemo brain”, has recently gained recognition as a problem by many clinicians, yet there is a clear lack of understanding regarding how or why it occurs. Our research study, Examining the Effects of Chemotherapy and Hormone Depletion on Memory and Cognition, is aimed at understanding how chemotherapy and hormone depletion affect memory and cognition in breast cancer survivors.

The purpose of this study is to help find out what specifically happens to the brain that leads to these disruptions. By learning more about how chemotherapy and hormone depletion therapy affect cognition, we hope that our research can be used to improve quality of life outcomes for cancer survivors as well as to help clinicians and caregivers better understand the condition.

This research will utilize a method known as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to record the activity of the brain. MRI is very safe. It is a completely non-invasive procedure, which means that no needles, chemicals, or radiation are used in the procedure. Participants will be asked to perform basic tasks, which may require them to respond to visual stimuli presented on a computer screen.

Eligibility criteria for participation:

  • You cannot currently be pregnant
  • You must be right handed
  • You must be between 18 and 45 years of age
  • You must have received chemotherapy treatment with (or without) hormone depletion therapy in the last 6-12 months
  • You cannot have certain implants or devices that are metallic in your body. MRI machines use a strong magnetic field, and metallic objects may be hazardous and/or interfere with the procedure.

This study will take approximately two hours, and it will take place at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago. You will receive $60.00 for your participation and be reimbursed for travel expenses. If interested, please email Alyssa at Northwestern.CancerResearch@gmail.com or call the Northwestern University lab for human neuroscience at 312-503-5613.

Page 10 of 58« First...89101112...203040...Last »
 
© Oncofertility Consortium Blog