Over the last twenty years, advances in fertility preservation techniques have made oncofertility more accessible to women diagnosed with cancer or other fertility impacting diseases. Despite this good news, the academic journal, Cancer, recently reported that between 1993 and 2007, only 4% of women between the ages of 18-40 diagnosed with cancer, sought out fertility preservation. In Cancer Today, a medical magazine issued by the American Association for Cancer Research, addresses this disparity in a new article entitled, “Fertility Preservation Catches On, But Slowly,” arguing that new cancer patients need information and referrals to reproductive specialists immediately after diagnosis to ensure they have the best possible chance of preserving their fertility if they choose to do so.
Studies show that discussing fertility preservation with a cancer patient may depend on several factors including education, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, and whether or not the cancer patient already has children. According to Cancer Today, “college graduates [are] up to 40% more likely to be counseled than those without a bachelors degree.” Teresa K Woodruff, reproductive endocrinologist and director of the Oncofertility Consortium maintains that this disparaging information highlights the gap between getting fertility preservation counseling and taking action. She also argues that “cancer patients need to be seen on that same day as diagnosis or within the next 24 hours,” by a reproductive specialist.
So what can we do to ensure that every young cancer patient has the same opportunity to preserve his or her fertility prior to treatment? The Oncofertility Consortium has led the way not only research, but also in advocacy, making fertility preservation a public discussion so that both clinicians and patients are aware of the potential damage cancer treatment can have on fertility. The more knowledge one has, the more likely they are to make an informed decision in that critical timeframe between diagnosis and treatment.
To read, “Fertility Preservation Catches On, But Slowly,” in Cancer Today, please click here. If you or someone you know needs information on fertility preservation, including options, techniques, clinics, cost, etc., please click on links below for more information.
- National Fertility Hotline (866.708.FERT) to speak with a Fertility Preservation Patient Navigator
- SaveMyFertility: an authoritative resource for adult cancer patients and the parents of children with cancer who want to learn more about preserving their fertility before and during cancer treatment, and protecting their hormonal health after treatment.
- Fertility Preservation Patient Navigator: A website designed to help patients learn more about their options for family building.
- MyOncofertility: A patient education resource provided by the Oncofertility Consortium.