Oocyte freezing or egg banking is suitable for young women who are not in a permanent relationship, in cases where the patient and her physician are willing to delay the initial cancer treatment for four to eight weeks. Alternatively, the oncologist may choose to begin cancer treatment for these young patients, and then allow the procedure to be performed in between subsequent treatments.
In this procedure, drugs are used to induce the woman's ovaries to mature and release multiple oocytes. The oocytes that are recovered are then cryopreserved before being fertilized. At a later date, after the cancer is in remission, the oocytes can then be thawed and fertilized.
Because oocytes do not cryopreserve as efficiently as embryos, to date only a small number of babies have been born to women who have undergone oocyte freezing. While there is not extensive experience with this treatment, recent use of oocyte freezing has produced an increasing number of pregnancies. However, it has still not proven as successful as in vitro fertilization.