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Whether a Cancer Patient Gets Counseling for Fertility Preservation Relates to her Race, Marital Status, Age, and Diagnosis

ASRM Office of Public Affairs

22 October 2014

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Honolulu, Hawaii- Northwestern University researchers have found disparities in counseling cancer patients about their future fertility and how it might be preserved.  Whether or not a woman receives counseling for fertility preservation relates not only to her type of cancer and cancer stage, but also to her age, race, and marital status. 

The researchers reviewed the electronic medical records of 353 women with breast, gynecologic, or hematologic cancers for demographic data, counseling for fertility preservation, and information on diagnosis, treatment and chemotherapy.  Seventy-four percent of the women received gonadotoxic chemotherapy. Sixty-two percent of these had documented counseling for fertility preservation; 29% were not counseled; and in 9% of the records counseling was not documented.

The researchers found that younger women were more likely to receive fertility preservation counseling than older women and divorced women were less likely than women of any other marital status to receive counseling.   A patient’s race might make her more or less likely to be counseled; counseling was documented for 86% of Hispanic women, compared to 65% of Asian women, 62% of white women and 53% of black women.

Women with lower stage cancer, particularly a gynecological or hematological cancer, were more likely to receive counseling than women with other cancers or higher stage cancer.

Charles Coddington, MD, President of the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology, said, “We need to increase awareness in the oncology community that counseling for fertility preservation should be made available to all cancer patients of reproductive age who have not completed their families.  It is grossly unfair to withhold counseling from any woman who could benefit from it.  Even those who don’t freeze eggs benefit from the opportunity counseling represents and may be less troubled by regrets.”

O-100  AK Lawson,  “Disparities in Counseling Female Cancer Patients for Fertility Preservation:  Adding Insult to Injury?”


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Date Added: 22 October 2014   Date Updated: 22 October 2014
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