Children & Young Adults
Childhood Cancer Fertility Project
Each year in Ireland around 200 children are diagnosed with cancer, the treatments for which can cause lifelong damage to fertility, seriously impacting their future chances of ever starting a family of their own.
A new partnership between the Irish Cancer Society and Merrion Fertility Clinic aims to ensure that, where possible, lifesaving treatment for children does not come at the cost of their future dreams of parenthood.
The project aims to develop a new supports and services to address a current significant gap in care and improve the long-term quality of life for children with cancer in Ireland.
The first of its kind in Ireland, the Childhood Cancer Fertility Project will develop cutting-edge methods to preserve fertility for children who do not have access to such a service here.
More than 4 in 5 children now survive their cancer diagnosis, and it is known that having the ability to start their own family is incredibly important to survivors in later life. Ireland currently lags behind the UK and other European countries in fertility services for children, adolescents and young adults who go through cancer despite this increasing need, leaving some families resorting to travelling abroad for help amid the stress of cancer treatment, with others receiving no help at all.
The Childhood Cancer Fertility Project looks at life beyond treatment for these groups, ensuring that where possible survivors are given the precious opportunity of having their own family in future.
The project will offer supports and services to three main groups:
- Adolescents and young adults will be offered access to an enhanced fertility preservation service for cancer patients operated by Merrion Fertility Clinic
- Female survivors of childhood cancers aged 18-25* will be invited to have their fertility needs assessed, and referred for further treatment or investigation where fertility treatments may still be an option.
- Children who have yet to reach adolescence will benefit from the development of ground-breaking fertility preservation methods previously not available in this country.
The three-year project aims to assist hundreds of childhood, adolescent and young adult cancer patients and survivors entirely free of cost to the user, in what is designed to provide a forerunner for a new national fertility preservation programme for these groups.
The result of a €420,000 investment from the Irish Cancer Society as part of its commitment to improving the lives of cancer survivors, the Childhood Cancer Fertility Project will bring together top international expertise to deliver a world-class service that caters for a basic yet essential need among our cancer community.
The project is supported by the National Child, Adolescent and Young Adult Fertility Preservation Consortium comprising the Irish Cancer Society, Merrion Fertility Clinic, the National Maternity Hospital, and Children’s Health Ireland, with further support provided by the National Cancer Control Programme.
It will bring about a number of benefits and improvements for patients and survivors, including:
- A structured fertility health service for children, adolescent and young adult cancer patients headed by Merrion Fertility Clinic that will make it possible for patients to be routinely referred for the assistance they need in a timely manner
- Access to fertility testing and tailored counselling to help patients and their families understand and explore the options that are available to them
- Addressing an identified gap in knowledge and resources for healthcare professionals by empowering them to inform their patients about fertility options open to them, and refer them to an appropriate service.
The Childhood Cancer Fertility Project responds to the requirements of cancer patients/survivors as well as healthcare professionals, fulfilling an unmet need for clear information and access to tailored fertility services. This represents an important step forward in delivering a new service that can provide life-changing opportunities for future parenthood never before available to these groups in this country, in what is hoped will be a catalyst for the eventual foundation of a comprehensive new national fertility preservation programme for Ireland.