Cancer and the therapies used to treat it can cause some patients to become infertile. Therefore, it’s important for clinicians and young cancer patients to have discussions about this issue and the available fertility preservation techniques that might be used to overcome it. Little is known about the extent to which these discussions take place, or patient and physician characteristics associated with these interactions.
To investigate, Margarett Shnorhavorian, MD, MPH, FAAP, FACS, of the University of Washington, Seattle Children’s Hospital, and her colleagues asked 459 adolescents and young adults who were diagnosed with cancer in 2007 or 2008 to complete questionnaires. More than 70 percent of the patients reported being told that treatment may affect their fertility; however, male patients were more than twice as likely as female patients to report that fertility preservation options were discussed. Most striking, almost one-third of males reported making arrangements for fertility preservation, which was four to five times higher than the rate seen in females. The investigators also found that between 2007 and 2008, males and females both reported an increase in discussions regarding the impact of cancer therapy on fertility and fertility preservation options.
The questionnaires also revealed that discussion and action surrounding fertility preservation may be linked with medical factors, patient socioeconomic status, and child-rearing status. For example, individuals without insurance, those who were raising children, and, among males only, those who received treatment posing no or low fertility risk were more likely not to discuss fertility preservation with clinicians. Also, among males, those without a college degree, those who lacked private insurance, and those who were raising children were more likely to not make fertility preservation arrangements; too few females had made fertility preservation arrangements for similar analyses.
“The access and health-related reasons for not making arrangements for fertility preservation reported by participants in this study further highlight the need for decreased cost, improved insurance coverage, and partnerships between cancer healthcare providers and fertility experts to develop strategies that increase awareness of fertility preservation options and decrease delays in cancer therapy as fertility preservation for adolescent and young adult cancer patients improves,” said Dr. Shnorhavorian.
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Article: “Fertility preservation knowledge, counseling, and actions among adolescent and young adult cancer patients: A population-based study.” Margarett Shnorhavorian, Linda C. Harlan, Ashley Wilder Smith, Theresa H.M. Keegan, Charles F. Lynch, Pinki K. Prasad, Rosemary D. Cress, Xiao-Cheng Wu, Ann S. Hamilton, Helen M. Parsons, Gretchen Keel, Sarah Charlesworth, Stephen M. Schwartz, and the AYA HOPE Study Collaborative Group. CANCER; Published Online: July 27, 2015 (DOI: 10.1002/cncr.29328).
Author Contact: Seattle Children’s Hospital’s public relations team, at [email protected] or +1 (206) 987-4500.
CANCER is a peer-reviewed publication of the American Cancer Society integrating scientific information from worldwide sources for all oncologic specialties. The objective of CANCER is to provide an interdisciplinary forum for the exchange of information among oncologic disciplines concerned with the etiology and course of human cancer. CANCER is published by Wiley and can be accessed online at http://wileyonlinelibrary.com/journal/cancer.
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