Becoming a mother after leukaemia


Institut Marquès has presented at the 37th National Congress of the Spanish Fertility Society (SEF) the first international study that evaluates the success rate of In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) with egg donation in women who have overcome leukaemia or lymphoma.

According to the data presented at the SEF by the team of the Oncoreproduction Unit of Institut Marquès, women who have suffered a haematological cancer manage to have a baby thanks to Assisted Reproduction in 73% of cases. This scientific work is the first international study that compares the pregnancy rate through egg donation treatment in patients who have overcome haematological cancer with women who suffer sterility without any history of cancer. The results show that the chances of having a healthy baby are very similar.

Pregnancy is safe for both mother and baby

Leukaemia and lymphoma are the type of cancer with the highest incidence in childhood and adolescence. In the case of women, their treatment (chemotherapy or radiotherapy) causes early ovarian failure and a high risk of sterility. Therefore, those who wish to become mothers in the future will most likely resort to Assisted Reproduction and, in most cases, to In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) with donor eggs. The experience of Institut Marquès has shown that this Assisted Reproduction treatment is safe for both the mother and the baby and does not increase the risk of cancer reproduction.

In Barcelona, Institut Marquès was one of the first fertility centres to create a specialised Oncofertility Unit. The study presented at the last national congress of the SEF is the result of 11 years of its egg donation programme for women having survived cancer.

Not giving up motherhood

Getting informed from the moment of diagnosis is essential to preserve fertility before starting treatment. Egg freezing may be one of the options for women who want to become mothers in the future. Currently, women take more than 7 years between the diagnosis of cancer and the first fertility consultation, which is much longer than the recommended time.

At Institut Marquès, the Oncofertility Unit evaluates each case. A multidisciplinary committee is responsible for advising these patients, who in 80% of cases achieve pregnancy. Two years after the consultation, 7 out of 10 patients have become mothers. Only 10% of the women who started reproductive treatment had their eggs vitrified before the oncological treatment.

The treatments followed by those who have overcome cancer to become mothers have been: egg donation (84%), in vitro fertilisation (3.9%) and embryo donation (11.7%).

According to data from Institut Marquès, the average age of these patients is 40, and the most common type of cancer is breast cancer (35%), followed by haematological cancers, such as leukaemia or lymphoma (29%), and ovarian cancer (14%).