Carolyn Vachani, RN, MSN, AOCN
Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania
Last Modified: June 3, 2009
Title: National survey of physicians practice patterns: Fertility preservation and cancer patients
Reviewer: Arpi Thukral, MD
Presenter: G. Quinn
Affiliation: Moffitt Cancer Center
The treatment of cancer often poses a threat to fertility for young patients of child-bearing age. Approximately 450,000 cancer survivors in the U.S. are of reproductive age, and therefore addressing the impact of cancer treatment on fertility is a high priority in providing quality care to these patients. Previous studies show that less than 50% of patients receive adequate information of fertility preservation (FP) before the initiation of cancer treatment. Some factors that affect infertility in patients receiving cancer therapy include age, sex, diagnosis, chemotherapy used, and radiation fields. FP options include sperm cryopreservation for men and embryo cryopreservation, egg freezing, or ovarian transposition for women.
In 2005, ASCO published guidelines on FP that recommended that “oncologists should address the possibility of infertility with patients treated during their reproductive years and be prepared to discuss possible fertility preservation options or refer appropriate and interested patients to reproductive specialists, as part of education and informed consent before cancer therapy.” The purpose of this study was to assess oncologist’s practice concerning discussions with their patients regarding fertility preservation.
The survey inquired about knowledge, attitude and perception, barriers, and behaviors in practice of physicians related to fertility preservation in patients of child-bearing age. Six hundred thirteen physicians completed the survey.
The findings included:
Patients must be advocates for their fertility wishes! They need to ask about fertility risks related to their treatment, request to meet with a fertility specialist and review FP options. Organizations such as Fertile Hope offer many resources for patients and physicians, including information about FP options, specialist referrals and financial assistance.
Also see Interpreting a Cancer Research Study