The John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital of Cook County Division of Family Planning, led by Ashlesha Patel, MD, MPH, and the Division of Hematology/Oncology, led by Thomas Lad MD, launched a new clinical partnership on August 3, 2015. The Divisions have established a link between the Oncology and Family Planning Clinics to incorporate contraceptive counseling as an essential piece of comprehensive cancer care.  Hematology/Oncology runs 52 clinic sessions per week, treating over 500 women. Approximately 45% of these women are in the reproductive age range, between 18 and 55 years. With improvements in treatments and prognosis, quality of life factors are of increasing importance for these women.  Regardless of future childbearing interest, the first 18 months post-diagnosis of cancer are considered suboptimal for childbearing, and therefore it is imperative that the Hematology/Oncology and Family Planning services join forces. With this essential clinical relationship, patient counseling and provider-patient communication regarding contraceptive care in the context of cancer diagnosis will continue to grow and improve.

Although the clinical link has been newly established, the collaboration between the Divisions spans several years through their research mechanisms, the Women’s Health Research Collaborative (WHRC) and the Stroger Hospital of Cook County (SHCC) Minority-Underserved NCI Community Oncology Research Program (MU-NCORP).  WHRC is a multidisciplinary research group also led by Ashlesha Patel, MD, MPH, with Lindsay Zimmerman, MPH as the Director of Research. WHRC was created to foster connections between physicians, residents, graduate students, and researchers for the development of innovative women’s health research. The mission of WHRC is to: 1) Encourage discussion of women’s health research and areas of clinical/research interest; 2) Offer training and mentorship opportunities to junior researchers; 3) Perform collaborative research in several areas of women’s health including health disparities and minority groups and 4) Focus on patient-centered outcomes research (PCOR) to improve clinical service delivery. SHCC became a National Cancer-institute-funded Minority-based Community Clinical Oncology Program (MBCCOP) in June 2002. In August of 2014, the MBCCOP was restructured to form the MU-NCORP. This program is also led by Thomas Lad, MD and Erika Radeke, MS serves as the Program Administrator. The Chicago MU-NCORP has a strong record of recruiting minority participants to clinical trials with more than 1200 patients accrued to date. The clinical trial menu that is chosen for activation is designed with a view toward the minority population and type of cancers seen at Stroger Hospital.

Together, the groups have conducted research since 2007 to identify family planning issues in the oncology setting. They have obtained funding from the Susan G. Komen Foundation to foster the relationship of the oncology and family planning services at SHCC. They have also published five articles and developed a national behavioral study through the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group called E1Q11: EROS- Engendering Reproductive Health and Oncologic Survivorship, which is expected to accrue over 600 patients nationally.


A patient resource that is not available at Stroger Hospital is fertility preservation as it relates to cancer care. This need led to the collaboration between Stroger Hospital and the Oncofertility Consortium at Northwestern University.


Contact Us: 

Ashlesha Patel, MD, MPH


Assistant: Asha Underiner



Target Sex: 

  • Not sex-specific


Email Address: 


+1 312 864 5935


  • English