A Cutting-Edge Fertility Technique For Pediatric Cancer Patients

CHICAGO (AP) — Barely 2 years old, Talia Pisano is getting tough treatment for kidney cancer that spread to her brain. She’s also getting a chance at having babies of her own someday.

To battle infertility sometimes caused by cancer treatment, some children’s hospitals are trying a futuristic approach: removing and freezing immature ovary and testes tissue, with hopes of being able to put it back when patients reach adulthood and want to start families.

No one knows yet if it will work.

It has in adults – more than 30 babies have been born to women who had ovarian tissue removed in adulthood, frozen, and put back after treatment for cancer or other serious conditions. In lab animals, it’s worked with frozen and thawed testes tissue.

But the procedures are still experimental in children who haven’t reached puberty, and too new to have been attempted. There are challenges to making immature eggs and sperm from removed tissue suitable for conception. Still, fertility researchers hope to refine the science while the first generation of children whose tissue has been put on ice grows up.

Families like Talia’s are clinging to that optimism. The dark-eyed toddler who loves princesses and play dough had an ovary removed and frozen in April. She was treated for kidney cancer last year but when it spread, doctors started harsher treatment including brain radiation.

“It seemed very new and pretty amazing that we can do something like this and help her in a bigger way,” said her mom, Maria Pisano, of Griffith, Indiana.

“It definitely brought some peace” and raised hope for Talia’s future, Pisano said.

Doctors face a delicate balance in broaching the idea of yet another medical procedure when families have been hit with a horrible diagnosis and difficult treatment plan. The tissue-removing surgeries are typically done while a —> Read More