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Breast cancer patients 'missing fertility advice'

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Woman with breast cancer are not getting the facts and advice from health professionals about preserving their fertility, research suggests.

A trust’s poll of 300 breast cancer nurses, doctors and surgeons shows that many women undergoing treatment are not given the opportunity to talk about their fertility while receiving their cancer treatment.

Fewer than 40% of staff even considered mentioning fertility, and only then would it be discussed if the patient had a partner or already had children.

Results of the survey, compiled by Royal Free Hampstead Trust, were presented this week to delegates at a conference hosted by the National Cancer Research Institute.

It is said to be the first survey of its kind, asking professionals which factors influenced the likelihood of them talking about fertility preservation with patients with breast cancer.

Royal Free Hospital cancer doctor Judy King, author of the research, told delegates: “There should be a clear, prompt referral pathway for such patients to allow time for fertility preservation, without the need to delay the start of chemotherapy.”

Institute director Jane Cope noted: “This first survey of the referral practices of healthcare professionals in the UK highlights that there is a lack of clear and consistent advice being given to patients, and this needs to be addressed urgently.”



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