A breakthrough has been made by scientists seeking ways to enable women treated for cancer to have children. Sections of ovarian tissue that had been frozen before a patient's chemotherapy treatment have been successfully implanted back into a 36-year old woman by a team of scientists in the UK.
The tissue graft worked normally, producing hormones and allowing the patient normal menstruation for two months before ceasing to function. The woman did not ovulate before the grafts stopped working. The scientists do not believe that this is necessarily a permanent problem, and believe that the ovaries may begin to work again at any time. Previous human ovarian grafts have either completely failed or have needed continued doses of hormones in order to function.
Despite the cessation of function, the woman said 'I feel this offers hope to female cancer sufferers... Regaining natural hormone production is not just a question of my fertility, it is my sense of self as a woman, my femininity, my sexuality'. Dr Brian Lieberman of St Mary's Hospital in Manchester, where the surgery was carried out, said 'we hope that this technique will have a major impact on the quality of life of young cancer patients, whether or not they plan to have a family'.
Professor John Radford from the Christie Hospital in Manchester said the ovarian graft was a 'milestone'. A second woman has already undergone the same treatment and the results are awaited. The two hospitals have recruited an additional 14 patients to undergo the procedure.