(WUSA9) -- Nearly 70,000 young Americans between the ages of 15 and 39 are diagnosed with cancer each year. Early detection is key to saving their lives, but the side effects of the cancer treatments can lead to a unique concern for patients under 40: infertility.
At the Cancer Treatment Centers of America doctors say an early discussion with your cancer team is key to maximizing fertility options.
AF Captain Candice Adams was 29 when she was diagnosed with one of the more aggressive forms of breast cancer: Triple Negative.
"Finding out it was Triple Negative was worse than finding out it was breast cancer," said Capt. Adams.
In fact, about 11,000 women under age 30, prime child bearing age, are diagnosed every year with breast cancer. Adams underwent chemotherapy first, then surgery, plus radiation---treatments that can all negatively affect her fertility.
Adams told us, "I want to have a family and show younger women that you can still be a mom, still venture forward."
And she can, says Dr. Nicole Longo of the Cancer Treatment Centers of America. As important as Early Detection is to curing cancer, Dr. Longo says Early Discussions between the patient & their cancer team is key to Fertility Preservation. It's the medical provider's job to think ahead and help patients to do the same.
Dr. Longo said, "It starts with you and it also starts with us."
She added, "....If we have that conversation we know your concerns and can help identify early on whether or not you're a candidate and get you to the right place at the right time."
Getting you to that right place -- the specialization of fertility in cancer patients -- is called Oncofertility. This concerns both women and men because the treatments involved to prevent a cancer recurrence are not just for gynecological cancers but for all cancers.
"Fertility options include egg cryopreservation, embryo conservation, as well as sperm cryopreservation," said Longo.
And if you are unable to sustain a pregnancy for 9 months because of surgery or chemotherapy has changed your hormone levels, there's also an option for third party reproduction through surrogacy.
Longo said, "We believe in support before, during and after to make sure that he patient is fully supported and aware of all the potential opportunities they can have."