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Ovarian Cryopreservation May Be Unsafe in Leukemia Patients

Medscape Today,  Aug 19, 2010
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Ovarian tissue cryopreservation is a relatively new option for cancer patients who wish to preserve fertility prior to undergoing chemotherapy and radiotherapy. But even though autotransplantation of frozen–thawed ovarian tissue harvested before chemotherapy/radiotherapy has thus far led to 13 live births, a serious risk might accompany this procedure.

In a report published online July 1 in Blood, researchers believe that this method of fertility preservation might be unsafe for patients with leukemia. The risk is that the reimplanted tissue might harbor malignant cells that could induce disease recurrence.

When investigating cryopreserved ovarian tissue from 6 patients with chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) and 12 with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), standard histology did not reveal any malignant cells. However, with quantitative PCR, the researchers found positive leukemic markers in the ovarian tissue of 70% of the ALL patients and of 33% of the CML patients.

For further analysis, ovarian tissue from the 18 patients was grafted into mice for an observational period of 6 months. All of the mice grafted with ovarian tissue from the CML patients stayed healthy, but 4 grafted with ovarian tissue from the ALL patients developed intraperitoneal leukemic masses.

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