Many Cancer Patients Unaware of Ways to Preserve Fertility
Fertility problems are common in young cancer patients. But research reveals that there are options to preserve fertility in patients who plan to undergo chemotherapy and related cancer treatments. Unfortunately, many such patients are unaware of cancer fertility preservation options and thus suffer from infertility. This lack of awareness is one of the prime causes of young cancer patients not able to have children, according to Cancer journal.
Who will be impacted more?
Women, in particular, are least aware about the fertility preservation options.
True, cancer treatments can impact fertility in young patients. While some may have a short-term effect, others may cause lifelong impact on the fertility of the patient. For example, in a young male undergoing testicular radiotherapy, the quality or quantity of sperm may be compromised. In some women, cancer treatment may even require surgical removal of the womb.
A number of cancer fertility preservation options are available. However, young people are either not aware of the available options or are not able to make a decision regarding the same due to other reasons. Research reveals that males are almost twice as likely as females to discuss fertility preservation options with their doctor. The number of males preserving their fertility is almost four or five times that of females.
- The common factors that influence such decisions relating to fertility options include insurance status and education level of patients.
- Patients already having children are less likely to consider options to preserve fertility.
Fertility Risk and Preservation Options
According to the guidelines laid down by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, it is important that oncologists bring the issue of fertility risk and preservation options with reproductive-age cancer patients at the time of consultation. Patients are under immense financial and psychological pressure due to the disease that they are least likely to enquire about other issues.
Males who don’t have a college degree or private insurance are less likely to choose fertility preservation options, according to the AYA HOPE survey. Moreover, those already having children choose not to discuss preservation arrangements or those receiving treatment that posed less fertility risk are less likely to discuss preservation.
With the advances in preserving fertility options today, it is highly likely that the gap highlighted in the study will narrow down, as more fertility options for women become available.
The entire fertility preservation process for women takes longer than 10 days, as eggs need time for maturity before being collected and frozen. This is way too longer for women as compared to men, with just one day needed for preserving sperm. This is one reason that keeps most women from going ahead with preservation option, fearing delay in their cancer treatment.
Greater awareness about the issue is required to ensure young cancer patients in their reproductive age can opt to preserve their fertility.