Childhood cancer patients will have a better chance of starting a family later in life thanks to a new initiative from the Irish Cancer Society.
The €420,000 Childhood Cancer Fertility Project includes a scheme so those with cancer get the chance to undergo preventative fertility treatments.
It means mature children who have been diagnosed with cancer this year will be able to freeze sperm or eggs as well as store testicular or ovarian tissue before treatment.
They will have the opportunity to use these after they finish treatment if fertility is affected.
Women aged 18 to 25 years would be able to have an assessment and explore treatment options if they are at a high risk of early menopause or reduced fertility due to their cancer treatment.
A third strand of the initiative would see a development of services for the freezing of testicular and ovarian tissue, beyond the project's five-year strategy, made available to younger children who have not reached maturity.
Under this initiative, children with cancer would be able to avail of these services free of charge if they wish. It's becoming more of an issue because, thankfully, more children who get cancer are surviving into adulthood," said Donal Buggy, director of services at the charity.
"Four in five children diagnosed with cancer are now surviving.
"The technology has evolved for assisted reproduction to such an extent it can make it possible for preservation options that were not possible for children diagnosed with cancer."
He is aware of two families who travelled abroad to receive fertility treatment in the past year.
"I would know of children who have gone to the UK for these services. In some cases, parents will bring this up and have the conversation and be very aware," he said.