Members of the Global Partners Network recently published a commentary in the Biology of Reproduction. Below is more information from first author Saskia de Roo, who spent last year studying at the Consortium.
Let me first introduce myself, I am Saskia de Roo, and I graduated last January from medical school in Nijmegen, the Netherlands. From April 4th until July 1st 2016 , I worked at the Northwestern University, Oncofertility Consortium as part of my research internship during medical school. Just a couple of weeks ago, my article was published, which I’ve been working on ever since my research internship. I had the best time of my life in Chicago and I am very grateful for the chance and opportunity Dr. Woodruff gave me. She is absolutely a pioneer for women’s health and it was a great pleasure to work with everyone at the Oncofertility Consortium.
The article highlights that fertility management in the cancer setting is emerging as an important issue for patients and providers, since the number of pediatric and young adult cancers survivers is increasing globally due to earlier diagnostics and expansion of targeted chemo- and biologic-based therapeutics. As a consequence, cancer-related infertility and reproductive hormone loss is of increasing concern for both male and female survivors. We attempted to estimate the reproductive loss in oncofertility practicing countries and to develop a global oncofertility index (OFI). But unfortunately, such index is unachievable, due to lack of quantitative metrics that would be necessary to calculate such index. Therefore, we will be unable to assess how oncofertility concerns are being addressed and what lessons can be learned from countries that improve such an index over time to assess the global burden of infertility or sterility in the cancer setting. We highlight the gaps in our article and by knowing where the gaps are, we hope that scientists, clinicians, and policy makers can work to lessen the likelihood that oncofertility methods contribute to a widening gap in healthcare services. The article shows how important, but also, how difficult field-spanning concepts like oncofertility are. Future studies will attempt to bring together thought leaders on each of the action plans that are outlined in the article with the overall goal of improving the landscape of care for patients facing life-preserving but fertility-threatening cancer treatments around the globe.
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