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Increasing Awareness and Access to Oncofertility Care

Oncofertility colleagues, Drs. Richard Anderson and Melanie Davies from the UK recently published an editorial in The BMJ encouraging specialists across the UK to standardize fertility preservation interventions since awareness about fertility preservation remains relatively low. Despite national guidelines, obstacles still remain in terms of need for funding and access to care.
Read the complete article here: Preserving fertility in girls and young women with cancer Anderson – 2016

Colleagues at the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago weighed in on the editorial and agreed that access is variable across the US as well and there need to be measures taken to advocate for further translational research funding and efforts to increase clinical awareness among multidisciplinary specialists who work in the oncofertility setting. Dr. Erin Rowell, Attending Physician, Pediatric Surgery, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago; Medical Director, Institute for Fetal Health; Assistant Professor of Surgery, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine said:

“We applaud our UK colleagues and we too find that awareness of and access to fertility preservation services in the United States is highly variable.  Particularly for the pediatric patient population, we find that often assumptions are made by physicians that families will not want to pursue fertility preservation due to perceived risks, cost of tissue freezing, and experimental nature of the procedures.  In fact, for the past several years, we see continued increased numbers of requests by families for information on fertility preservation options for pediatric patients, even very young children, indicating that this is central to their quality of life concerns.

The Oncofertility Consortium was founded with the intent to establish a separate specialty with multidisciplinary participation from oncology, reproductive endocrinology, surgery, urology, and basic and translational research.  Now we are extending the same idea of a separate, multidisciplinary specialty to pediatric patients at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago.  We agree with the call to arms for advancing the field by establishing evidence based criteria for risk assessment in pediatric patients, and by improving education for patients, families, and clinicians.  In addition, we advocate for increased basic and translational research to optimize the fertility and hormone restoration for each in patient in the future.”

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