Young women who survive cancer are not getting enough information about their fertility and options for having children, a US study has suggested.
Many young female cancer survivors are at risk of early menopause because of their cancer treatment yet a significant proportion reported not having enough information to make key decisions, reveal the findings published in the journal Cancer.
“Delaying fertility-related decisions may cause them to miss their narrowed window of opportunity to preserve their fertility”
The study involved an anonymous online survey completed by 346 young female cancer survivors. The team focused on 179 young women with uncertain fertility who wanted children or were undecided about having children but had not taken steps to preserve their fertility.
They found more than two thirds were worried about their ability to have children and many reported not having enough information on various fertility topics.
Options for those not ready to start a family could include egg or embryo freezing.
About two thirds said they wanted more advice about the decision to preserve their fertility and a third said they needed more support in making the decision.
The researchers said the main focus was often on preserving fertility before treatment took place, and the clinical and support needs of women at this stage.
However, many young women did not take steps to preserve their fertility, despite wanting children in the future and it was clear more support was needed as part of aftercare services.
Cancer survivors want more info on fertility
“The potential loss of fertility has been described in the literature as being almost as painful, if not more so, than the cancer diagnosis itself,” said Catherine Benedict from Northwell Health, one of the study’s lead researchers.
“Failure to provide information and address concerns with respect to fertility-related decisions may have lasting consequences for young women who hope to move on from their cancer experience to achieve important life goals such as having children,” she said.
“For women at risk for early menopause, delaying fertility-related decisions may cause them to miss their narrowed window of opportunity to preserve their fertility, if desired,” she added.