Doctors offer fertility hope to cancer children

LONDON (Reuters) - Doctors have extracted, matured and frozen eggs from girls as young as five in a move that may allow children with cancer to become parents when they grow up, scientists said on Sunday.

Childhood cancers usually result in cure rates of between 70 and 90 percent but the aggressive chemotherapy which is often needed can render children sterile.

Many experts had thought eggs in the follicles of young girls before puberty were too immature to be extracted.

But an Israeli team found they could obtain eggs from girls with cancer aged between five and 10 years and then culture them in a dish to make them viable.

Ariel Revel from Hadassah University Hospital in Jerusalem will present full details of his research at the annual meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology in Lyon, France, this week.

"No eggs have yet been thawed, so we do not know whether pregnancies will result," he said in a statement. "But we are encouraged by our results so far, particularly the young ages of the patients from whom we have been able to collect eggs."

Revel believes the technique could offer girls undergoing cancer treatment a realistic chance of preserving their fertility.