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Cancer patients need fertility help

Cancer patients need fertility help

Health experts claim that cancer patients are being denied access to NHS fertility treatment, despite undergoing treatments such as chemotherapy that can leave them infertile.

Back in 2004, official guidance from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) said that cancer patients should be given universal access to sperm, egg and embryo storage.

But a report written by a working party drawn from experts from the Royal Colleges of Physicians, Radiologists, and Obstetricians and Gynaecologists claims that there is currently no national policy on funding techniques aimed at preserving fertility in cancer patients.

And it is calling for the NHS to fund such services, including setting up research-based centres for egg and ovarian tissue storage.

Around 11,000 patients aged between 15 and 40 are diagnosed with cancer every year in the UK -  which is 4% of the total.

Dr Ben Mead, chair of the working party, said: "More and more young people with cancer can now be cured with modern treatments, but this success has sometimes been achieved at a price - particularly with regard to fertility.

"Techniques are available, or in development, to store sperm, eggs, embryos or even parts of an ovary that can then restore fertility after treatment.
 
"What is lacking is a uniform national strategy - leaving the present arrangements as analogous to postcode prescribing. It is time for action nationally to deal with this distressing problem."

NICE

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Your comments: (Terms and conditions apply)

"Definitely. Despite asking the prostate cancer nurse for details of sperm storage, she did nothing at all. Surgery has left me infertile. I am single and have no children. Maybe one day I would have liked the choice" - D.Wilson, Devon

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