Cancer Patients Unaware of Fertility Options

Now that cancer treatments help many more cancer victims to become cancer survivors it is important to consider life issues when planning cancer treatments. For younger cancer patients, future fertility is an important life issue.

Yet, up to half of cancer patients of reproductive age do not receive adequate information about the impact of treatment on their fertility, decreasing their options for family planning and support, a new study suggests.

“When we look at studies of regret after cancer treatment one area that is always mentioned is reproductive regrets. Women come back and say they never got the chance to discuss their fertility and now it is gone,” Dr. Don Dizon, clinical co-director of gynecologic oncology at the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center, told Reuters Health. “My hope is that this study reinforces the importance of bringing up fertility to all patients of reproductive age regardless of prognosis,” said Dizon, who wasn’t involved in the research.

For the new analysis, Dr. Shanna Logan at Kids Cancer Center, Sydney Children’s Hospital in Australia and colleagues examined data from 23 previous studies conducted in seven countries from 2007 to 2016. Cancer and cancer treatment either temporarily or permanently affects the fertility potential of 50 to 75 percent of cancer survivors. The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) recommends that healthcare providers discuss as early as possible the risk of infertility and fertility preservation options with all post-pubescent patients who will undergo cancer treatment.

Logan told Reuters Health by email that young female patients reported greater barriers to receiving appropriate oncofertility support than male patients.

In our community there are fewer barriers for women as many of the oncologists are tuned into the need to provide this information and at Reproductive Partners we have rapid protocols to stimulate patients prior to egg retrieval so that they do not have to delay the start of chemo or radiation therapy.

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