(HealthDay) -- Ovarian grafts -- frozen ovarian tissue that is thawed and transplanted back into a woman's body -- can help cancer survivors preserve their fertility, according to a small, new study.
Researchers from the University of Kansas Medical Center found that the grafts can produce hormones for more than seven years, a much longer lifespan than expected.
The study, led by Dr. Samuel Kim, associate professor in the
reproductive endocrinology division of the department of obstetrics and gynecology, examined five cancer survivors who had rapidly thawed ovarian tissue transplanted back into their abdomens, a procedure known as heterotopic ovarian transplantation.
The levels and function of the reproductive hormones in the women were measured by monthly blood tests and ultrasounds.
The researchers found that four of the women needed a second transplantation within two years. Following the second transplant, however, ovarian function was restored faster and lasted longer -- from nine months up to seven years.
"Re-establishment of long-term endocrine function after ovarian transplantation will benefit young cancer survivors with premature ovarian failure," Kim concluded.
The study was recently published online in the Journal of Assisted Reproduction and Genetics.
The U.S. National Institutes of Health has more about ovarian cancer.