Pediatric patients with a variety of cancer, genetic, endocrine and rheumatologic conditions may be candidates for fertility preservation as part of their comprehensive care.
The remarkable improvements in cancer survivorship have prompted increased awareness of long-term quality of life concerns, including the risk of infertility among adult survivors of childhood cancer. We have developed a comprehensive program to offer solutions for all patients. The fertility program at Lurie Children’s is the only one of its kind for pediatric patients in the state of Illinois.
The Lurie Children’s Difference
We treat the whole child as part of our comprehensive care approach and believe fertility preservation is an element of the overall treatment strategy that patients create with their clinical team. In the case of treatments, families are encouraged to discuss the effects that their disease or disease treatments may have on their fertility and hormone production with their medical specialists at the time of diagnosis.
Each patient is unique, so fertility preservation must be tailored and carefully integrated with a patient’s treatment. Appropriate fertility preservation options depend on the age of the patient, as well as the cancer treatment the patient will receive. Fertility preservation can also apply to patients treated for other conditions, such as patients with genetic disorders that might cause infertility, or patients with rheumatology disorders who receive medications that might result in infertility.
Our multidisciplinary team brings together oncology experts, pediatric surgeons and fertility specialists to collaborate on patient care. Erin Rowell, MD, is the Medical Director of the Fertility & Hormone Preservation & Restoration Program. She is a board-certified pediatric surgeon and is an attending physician in the Division of Pediatric Surgery. Dr. Rowell’s research focuses on surgical technique for ovary removal to ensure the healthiest possible tissue samples for future restoration of fertility and hormone function. She collaborates in these research efforts with Monica Laronda, PhD, Director of Basic and Translational Research for the Fertility & Hormone Preservation & Restoration Program in the Stanley Manne Children’s Research Institute. Their basic science and translational research has been highlighted as a research priority focus of the hospital.
We are a member of the nationwide Oncofertility Consortium at Northwestern University, a group of fertility experts, oncologists, surgeons, urologists, endocrinologists and researchers that are working to provide fertility preservation options to patients who are at risk for infertility due to cancer treatment, surgery or a congenital condition.
Our program participates in research to advance the field of fertility and hormone preservation and restoration to provide future options for our patients. Current studies include:
The National Physicians Cooperative, part of the Oncofertility Consortium, is a nation-wide collaboration of physicians whose mission is to protect and preserve reproductive health through the continuum of care and across the lifespan of patients. This is an NIH funded program that began at Northwestern University.
Ovarian Tissue Cryopreservation, which has the goal to use long-term preservation of ovarian tissue with the potential to remove and mature eggs from the tissue in the future. If this method is proven successful, tissue and/or eggs can be used to initiate pregnancies after the patient is in remission.
Ovarian Reserve After Cancer: Longitudinal Effects (ORACLE), which observes for changes in ovarian function during and after treatment for cancer. This study is in collaboration with the University of Pennsylvania.
Monica Laronda, PhD, is the Director of Basic and Translational Research for the Fertility & Hormone Preservation & Restoration program. She is a reproductive endocrinologist who studies the mechanisms of fertility and hormone restoration. Her research aims to reveal critical insights about new ways to improve fertility preservation. Dr. Laronda's work was recently published in the journal Nature. Her work was also featured on WTTW-TV's Chicago Tonight, Science Daily, and Canada's CTV News. Learn more about Dr. Laronda's research.
Your support is vital in helping us continue to make a difference in the lives of patients and families. Lurie Children's relies on philanthropic funding to enhance its programs, services and research for children. To learn more, please e-mail the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago Foundation at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 312.227.7500.